American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis couldn’t shake the curse of her Turin mistake to claim Olympic gold redemption in the 2010 women’s snowboard cross in Vancouver on Tuesday, February 16.
The golden-haired Jacobellis received criticism for losing a 40-meter lead for gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy by a move the media dubbed “celebrating too early.”
The then 20-year-old counted her chickens a bit too early with a stylish board trick as she grabbed air and tumbled to the snow off the second to last jump of the course. Jacobellis recovered quickly, but not before her closest opponent, Swiss boarder Tanja Frieden, soared by to snag the gold medal Jacobellis had all but guaranteed with her huge lead. Jacobellis was left with a bittersweet silver medal and a snowboarding community torn between loving her style and wincing at her childish mistake.
“I think that’s bad-ass that she did that,” American teammate Nate Holland said after her Turin race. “That shows the style of snowboarding.”
Jacobellis shrugged the event off as a “bummer” to media questioning. “As a freestyler, I bow my head in shame,” she joked about losing gold on such an easy trick.
Still, it’s no wonder Jacobellis was the favorite for Tuesday’s women’s snowboard cross in Vancouver. But this time, the snowboarding goddess had a more painful fall to earth. During the last round of semi-finals, Jacobellis lost balance after a jump early in the course and came dangerously close to Canadian boarder Maelle Ricker’s board. Jacobellis overcorrected and was seen careening into a gate, resulting in disqualification from the medal round.
Ricker, who almost became a victim of the fall as well, soared into gold position, a fitting end to her personal Olympic redemption story. Her Turin race had ended in a helicopter ride off the mountain after crashing early in the course and throwing her into a fourth-place finish.
Tuesday afternoon, Jacobellis stayed true to the “spirit of snowboarding” that got her in trouble four years ago – she sailed down the rest of the course despite her medal disqualification and gave the crowd a “nice, fun truck-driver grab” as she leaped the final jump of the course. She then competed in the four-woman final for an official fifth place.
Not that Jacobellis needs the Olympic gold to prove her snowboarding prowess. The Vermont native has secured 20 World Cup wins and plenty of gold medals from the Winter X Games to keep her Olympic silver company on the mantle.
“It’s definitely not the end of the world for me,” Jacobellis told the press with her trademark Mona Lisa smile and grace, masking all but a tinge of disappointment and regret. “I have so many competitions each year. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the world only sees this race, and the one four years ago. So I guess I don’t have a great track record.”