During the brief history of snowboard cross, Lindsey Jacobellis has established herself as the world’s most dominating athlete, earning the United States its first gold medal at the Beijing Games on Wednesday.
Jacobellis, 36, took command of the final from the get-go, her trademark golden locks streaming out of her helmet as she raced to the finish line. When the finish line was in sight, she maintained a low squat. As she crossed the finish line, she had a wide grin on her face and placed her hands over her heart, as if she were trying to keep it in.
Jacobellis was able to redeem himself with the victory. She had not only fallen short of expectations in her previous three Winter Games, but she had also made one of the most well-known Olympic errors in history in the process.
When Jacobellis slid and tumbled on the ground while coasting toward a gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games and adding a little flair to a coronating leap, the crowd went wild. She finished second after being passed barely a few yards from the finish line, earning one of the most heartbreaking silver medals in history.
Jacobellis missed the final in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, after swerving off the course in a semifinal heat and missing the final. As recently as 2014, she was leading a semifinal heat until she tripped over some late-race rollers in Sochi, Russia, and missed the final for the second time in three years.
On Wednesday, when Jacobellis walked up to the middle step of the flower ceremony platform, a huge grin appeared on her face, as if to say, “Oh, now it’s going to be here!”
Stacy Gaskill, Jacobellis’ colleague, expressed her delight at seeing her finally win the gold medal in the Olympics.
According to Gaskill, “I don’t believe there are any words that can adequately describe that moment.” To win in her sixth Games and to remain at the peak of this sport for such a long period of time, as well as to inspire so many young girls like myself, Lindsey is the face of this sport.