Vancouver Olympics

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Vancouver Olympians: Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis

February 13, 2010
by Sarah Amandolare
Lindsey Jacobellis is a snowboarder through and through, drawn to risk and adventure, and eager to push the envelope. A fall prevented her from winning gold in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, but Jacobellis has the support of her coach, fellow snowboarders and fans, and appears on the brink of Vancouver glory.

Gold Medal Motivation

Fueling her Olympic momentum, Jacobellis became the first snowboarder to three-peat twice when she won the women’s Snowboarder X in late January, according to ESPN. She completed the first trio of wins from 2003-2005. ESPN has video footage of the breathtaking 2010 event, featuring Jacobellis careening at full speed down the mountain in Buttermilk, Colo.

In light of the win, ESPN noted that “the monkey is now off her back.” That so-called monkey refers to Jacobellis’ slip-up at the 2006 Olympics, when she fell on the second-to-last jump, losing her significant lead. Jacobellis finished in second place, earning the silver medal, but was widely criticized for how she fell: by performing “a needlessly risky aerial maneuver,” according to The New York Times.

Controversy in Turin

After Jacobellis’ fall, “[t]he ensuing, and fierce, reaction was an interesting case study,” Lisa Dillman writes for the Los Angeles Times. On one side were those who found the fall a mistake that reinforced “the stereotype of a showboating snowboarder,” while on the other there was respect for Jacobellis’ “staying true” to the brash roots of the sport.

Christopher Del Sole of suggests that the negative reaction “was seen by the snowboard industry as proof the mainstream media still didn’t understand the sport.” Jacobellis, however, was mostly unfazed. “I was ahead. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd. I messed up,” she said, according to Del Sole.

Teenage teammate Faye Gulini indicated that she could empathize with Jacobellis’ situation. “I felt for her because I would have done the same thing,” Gulini said, according to Dillman.

Jacobellis’ Early Days

Jacobellis was introduced to snowboarding by her older brother, Ben, who eventually became a “snowboard cross rider on the World Cup circuit,” according to NBC Olympics. In her hometown of Stratton, Vt., Lindsey began competing in races on Friday nights, and was the lone female in the 12-and-under field. She showed early promise and went on to enroll in the Stratton Mountain School, which has churned out several Olympic skiers and snowboarders, NBC reports.

Jacobellis’ Web site has photos and video footage of her during competition, and a few of her blog entries.

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