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Snowboarding-Jacobellis earns first U.S. gold and long-awaited redemption

Snowboarding-Jacobellis earns first U.S. gold and long-awaited redemption

Snowboarding-Jacobellis earns first U.S. gold and long-awaited redemption

Lindsey Jacobellis claimed the first gold medal for the United States at the Beijing Olympics when she won the snowboard cross final on Wednesday and finally found redemption after her career-defining fail at the Turin Games 16 years ago.

Jacobellis was within metres of winning the event in 2006 – the first time it was included in the Games – when she threw in a showboating trick trying to grab her board, only to fall and get overtaken at the line.

She failed to medal again after various mishaps in the next three Olympics and although she has an astonishing 10 X-Games and five world individual titles to her name, she was always desperate to make amends for Turin.

She did so with a dominant display on Wednesday, made all the sweeter as it secured the first U.S. gold of the Games.

But Jacobellis did not see the victory as redemption.

“It kept me hungry and kept me fighting for the gold,” she said, adding that she would have quit the sport if she had won gold in 2006.

“That was a lot to deal with for a young athlete.”

She always looked in command of Wednesday’s final but, as she knows better than anyone that nothing is settled until you cross the line.

“I wasn’t 100% sure but I wasn’t seeing anyone in my peripheral so I was confident when I crossed,” she said. “It really seemed like an unbelievable moment, it didn’t seem real at the time.

“The level is a lot higher than 16 years ago so I feel like a winner just by getting into the final because that has been the challenge every time.”

CAMARADERIE KING

Chloe Trespeuch of France, another veteran at 37, took the silver and the bronze went to Meryeta O’Dine of Canada and, typically for the sport where camaraderie is king, they were both quick to share Jacobellis’s joy.

“When she crashed before the line (in 2006) it was really hard for her,” Trespeuch said.

It was a very satisfying return for O’Dine, who suffered a concussion in a crash during practice and withdrew from the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, another reason why she felt able to empathize with Jacobellis.

“That (2006) is a very famous story in snowboard cross and to see her come home with the gold… it’s honestly really cool to see,” O’Dine said.

Australian Belle Brockoff, who finished fourth in the final, said: “I was watching her on Olympics before I even got to the sport. I would use her as inspiration. And then I so vividly remember her jump (from 2006) and watching that gold medal slip out of her fingers and I’m really happy for her.

“For her to keep coming out and not give up is pretty inspirational.”

Charlotte Bankes, the World Cup leader with three wins this season, had been expected to challenge for Britain’s first medal of the Games but crashed out of contention in the quarter-finals.

Source: Reuters

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