16 Years After 'Galling Mistake,' Snowboarder Finally Wins Gold

Lindsey Jacobellis brings home first gold for US at Winter Games in Beijing
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2022 6:06 AM CST
Updated Feb 9, 2022 6:51 AM CST
US' First Gold in Beijing Is Also Huge for Lindsey Jacobellis
The United States' Lindsey Jacobellis celebrates after winning a gold medal in the women's cross finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday in Zhangjiakou, China.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

It took 16 years and five Olympic appearances, but Lindsey Jacobellis finally has her gold medal. NBC News reports that the world-champion snowboarder, who first competed in the Games in 2006 in Turin, took top honors Wednesday in the women's snowboard cross, earning the US its first gold at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. An Olympics historian tells the Wall Street Journal that, at 36 years and 174 days old, Jacobellis is now also the oldest snowboarder, male or female, to ever win a gold medal at an Olympics, as well as the oldest American woman to take home gold in any sport at the Winter Games.

Jacobellis' debut Olympics appearance in 2006 was a memorable one, just not in the way she'd hoped. The Journal notes her "galling mistake" on the slopes that year: Jacobellis was pretty much gliding toward first place when she decided to add a bonus trick to one of her last jumps, causing her to fall right near the finish line. She took home the silver for that race instead. Her appearances in the 2010, 2014, and 2018 Games earned her fifth, seventh, and fourth place, respectively. In that last competition, she missed out on third place by just three-thousandths of a second.

Jacobellis' competitions outside of the Olympics have proven much more fruitful—she's got five world titles, 10 X Games wins, and dozens of World Cup victories under her belt. Now, however, she finally has the prize she first set out to win 16 years ago. "I still vividly remember watching the gold medal slip out of her fingers," Australia's Belle Brockhoff, who came in fourth Wednesday, said of the competitor who beat her. "She's copped so much s--- from the media and everything. For her to keep coming out and not giving up is pretty inspirational." As for Jacobellis herself, she noted after the race, per ESPN: "All these ladies had the potential to win, and today it just worked out for me. ... This feels incredible." (More Lindsey Jacobellis stories.)

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