Lindsey Jacobellis was in search of a gold medal in the 2006 Olympics in Torino. The snowboarder had the lead in much of the inaugural Snowboard Cross event, but she wiped out toward the end of the course and it ended up costing her the top spot on the podium.
Jacobellis dominated in each heat, and looked like she was going to take home her very first Olympic gold in her very first Olympic Games. She was so confident, in fact, that she even showed off a bit, grabbing her board at one point, which was met by cheers from the crowd. The common trick, called a Method, caused Jacobellis to go down. She was able to get back up rather quickly, but her dreams of finishing the race in first place ended immediately.
Jacobellis watched Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden board straight past her. Jacobellis rode across the finish line just after Frieden, winning a silver medal. Canada’s Dominique Maltais finished third to win bronze.
This is something that still bothers Jacobellis, and understandably so, but she’s hoping that the media can move past it.
“Wouldn’t it just be nice if the media didn’t harangue me for something that happened 12 years ago? I’m sure we can go into everyone’s past 12 years ago and pick out something that they coulda, shoulda, woulda done. It’s just mine was on a world stage that people have a hard time forgetting, or they just think that’s the only thing that’s happened or that it defined me as an athlete,” Jacobellis told the New York Times in a piece titled “The Haunting of Lindsey Jacobellis,” published this week.
Jacobellis, 32, grew up in Connecticut. This is her fourth trip to the Olympic Games. She finished fifth in Vancouver in 2010 and seventh in Sochi in 2014. Despite only having earned one Olympic medal, she is the most decorated female athlete in snowboard cross history, having won several medals in other tournaments, including five golds in Worlds.
“She’s had a bad experience with the Olympics, and in a lot of ways she dreads the Olympics now,” U.S. snowboard cross coach Peter Foley told the New York Times. “It would be nice if she could feel better about it,” he added.
Jacobellis has been working with a mental skills coach named Denise Shull. According to the New York Times article, “Shull has been helping Jacobellis prepare for the Games and the inevitable questions about her notorious fall. Her background is in coaching Wall Street traders and fund managers to harness and use emotion.”
Although she is favored to win gold, Jacobellis will have some stiff competition when she hits the slopes in the coming hours. Her runs are scheduled to be broadcast on Thursday night in the United States, as she seeks to redeem herself with the world watching.
Jacobellis has worked hard, both physically and mentally, and she’s ready to get on her board and go for it.
“I’m hoping that through all the years that I’ve been doing this, that these things will all come together and help keep me calm and focused, and hopefully I’ll come through,” Jacobellis told the New York Times.