The elusive quest for Olympic gold
Though regarded as one of the greatest snowboard cross champions in history, American Lindsey Jacobellis is still waiting for her first taste of Olympic glory.
A pioneer in her sport
Born in Danbury, Connecticut, not far from the mountains of Vermont, Lindsey Jacobellis was 10 when she was introduced to snowboarding by her older brother at Stratton Mountain ski resort. Although she initially excelled in half pipe, she eventually devoted her attention to snowboard cross, a sport that came into being in North America in the early 1990s. Jacobellis was only 16 when she took part in the first major international snowboard cross competition, held at the 1997 X Games.
She went on to become the most successful athlete in X Games history, winning eight SBX titles between 2003 and 2014, during which time she also won three FIS World Championship crowns and two World Cup titles in her signature event. By the end of 2014 the American had racked up a hugely impressive 27 World Cup victories and a grand total of 40 podium finishes, statistics that have contributed to her becoming one of the most eminent figures in the short history of snowboard cross.
A tumble in Turin
By the time snowboard cross made its Olympic debut at Turin 2006 Jacobellis had turned 20 and was the world No1. Determined to prove she was in a class of her own, the American boarder sailed through the heats and then surged into the lead in the four-rider final. Way out in front as she approached the penultimate jump, Jacobellis attempted a method grab but lost her balance as she landed and fell, a few short metres from the line, allowing Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden to steal past her and become the event’s first Olympic champion. The American, who had to be content with the silver medal, later admitted she had got caught up in the moment: “I was having fun. Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead and I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd.”
The quest for glory
Success also proved elusive for Jacobellis at Vancouver 2010, where she finished fifth overall after landing a jump badly in the semi-final and going through a gate, resulting in her disqualification. She fared no better at Sochi 2014, taking seventh place after crashing out when leading her semi-final race.
With only a silver medal to show for her efforts at three Olympics, the American is aiming for the top of the podium at Pyeongchang 2018, a long-overdue achievement for a rider that has made an indelible mark on her sport. “The sport is constantly evolving, and it’s something that I still want to be a part of and I love doing,” she says. “I know I have more life in this sport. I don’t want to just stop for any apparent reason. I want to almost do it until I cannot do it anymore.”