Olympic Snowboarder Who Lost Gold by Celebrating Too Early Has Made an Amazing Comeback

A blunder cost her Olympic gold 16 years ago. Now the U.S. athlete Lindsey Jacobellis has finally redeemed herself.
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Lindsey Jacobellis took home gold at the Beijing Games, after suffering blundering her shot at first place 16 years ago.  Photos: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man (left); Bob Martin/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Sixteen years after she suffered a brutal fall before the finishing line that cost her a gold medal, U.S. snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis landed first place in her event at the Beijing Olympics.

At Wednesday’s snowboard cross event, in which four to six competitors race down a winding, undulating course, 36-year-old Jacobellis sped into first place with evident jubilance written on her face. Beijing 2022 is her fifth Olympics, where she’s become the oldest American woman to win a medal at a Winter Games. 

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“This feels incredible because this level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis told reporters after her race

The Olympian added that she felt she had already won by making it to the finals, a challenging feat at every Olympic Games. 

Jacobellis celebrated this win after long being known for her grave slip-up at the 2006 Games held in Turin, Italy.

Like at Wednesday’s program, Jacobellis was comfortably leading in first place at the Turin Games 16 years ago. Poised to take home gold, the snowboarder celebrated her win prematurely with a trick near the finish line.

She grabbed her board in midair, a move known as the Method, but crashed, letting Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden speed past her. 

She did not medal in subsequent Olympic Games until Wednesday, finishing fifth in Vancouver 2010, seventh in Sochi 2014, and fourth in Pyeongchang 2018.

Though Jacobellis is now the most decorated female snowboard cross athlete, winning six World Championships and 31 World Cups in her event, the blunder 16 years ago has followed her long career. 

But not to her disadvantage, the 36-year-old has said, and she’s denied that these Winter Games are her redemption Olympics. 

“They can keep talking about [2006] all they want because it really shaped me into the individual that I am and kept me hungry and really helped me keep fighting in the sport,” she said after competing Wednesday. 

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