PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Lindsey Jacobellis’ hunt for redemption ended in another heartbreak, the third consecutive Olympics in which the notorious snowboardcross racer was waylaid by the unpredictable nature of her sport.
Jacobellis’ showboating just shy of the finish line cost her a gold medal a dozen years ago at the Turin Games, and her PyeongChang Games ended Friday afternoon just as had those in Vancouver and Sochi: without a medal.
On a twisting, dangerous course at Phoenix Snow Park, the 32-year-old advanced to the finals, where she finished fourth – just three-hundredths of a second off the medal stand. Italy’s Michela Moioli won gold.
Jacobellis led out of the gate and remained there for the first half of the race, only to fade as the riders entered a series of S-turns. She was first passed by Moioli, then Julia Pereira De Sousa Mabileau (silver) and Eva Samkova (bronze).
Jacobellis remains best known for the gaffe in which she held a commanding lead in 2006, tweaked a method grab to show style on the second-to-last jump, crashed out and recovered to take silver.
Even a dominant figure like Jacobellis can’t predict the whims of snowboardcross, a wild free-for-all that resembles a scene from Mad Max on snow. On Thursday, Austrian rider Markus Schairer broke the fifth vertebrae in his neck during a horrific crash in which he soared over a jump and landed on his back.
Though Jacobellis’ finish wasn’t grisly in that respect, a snowboarding community rooting for her found it painful still. For more than a decade, Jacobellis has been considered the most talented rider on the snowboardcross circuit, annually near the top of the world rankings. A medal would have helped show the world what those close to her know: Lindsey Jacobellis is more than a mistake she made as a 20-year-old.
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