Snowboard - Vaultier wins gold with damaged cruciate

Frenchman Pierre Vaultier thinks riding with a damaged anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee might actually have helped him win Olympic gold in the snowboard cross on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old suffered the injury many athletes fear the most in a World Cup race in Lake Louise two months ago but on Tuesday, competing with a brace on the joint, claimed his country's first Olympic title in the event.

"Apparently, it went well," he told reporters with a shrug when asked how it had been riding with the injury.

"I'm not very good at handling the pressure of being the favourite and (after the injury) I was far from the leadership, a real outsider.

"I came here with no pressure and was able to do the job the way I should do it and the way I'm able to do it."

Vaultier, who crashed out in the quarter-finals as one of the favourites four years ago in Vancouver, won all three of his races leading to the final on Tuesday.

Despite the blistering pace Nikolay Olyunin showed in the early rounds, Vaultier was always confident he would prevail in his duel with Russian in the medal decider.

"That was probably tougher than I thought," he added. "I was leading in my run, I did not even hear him at the back which means he was going really, really fast, because usually I hear the guys behind me.

"I was lucky not to meet him before the finals. I saw him once on TV at the start and I thought - wow he's fast, that's going to be tough."

Having achieved the greatest triumph of his career, Vaultier said he was not even sure he would now have surgery on his knee.

"Right now I feel alright," he said. "If I can continue (like this), then I think I will. There is nothing sure yet, I will meet my surgeon afterwards and we will talk about that.

"Right now I feel okay and even better with a gold medal."