Four years later, another Jacobellis disappointment U.S. speedskaters off to bumpy start
By EDDIE PELLS
WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — She did it again!
Looking to redeem herself after giving away a victory four years ago in Italy, Lindsey Jacobellis' return trip to the Olympics was even worse.
Early in her semifinal race on the snowboardcross course yesterday, she lost her bearings on a jump, wobbled and skittered to try to regain her balance.
Instead, she barreled through a gate and veered off course.
The most decorated, successful and dominant rider in the world didn't even make the medal round that was later won by Canada's Maelle Ricker.
"I do so many competitions a year," Jacobellis said, coming in for an interview more than an hour after the race. "It's unfortunate the rest of the world only sees this race, or four years ago. So I guess I don't have a great track record for the general public."
Four years ago, she was alone in the lead, the gold medal all but hanging around her neck, when she celebrated by shooting over the second-to-last jump while doing a fancy grab of the board — a method grab — that left her on her back, in shock, needing to gather herself and get across the line to salvage the silver.
This time, she dusted herself off and looped back onto the course to the finish. Riding alone, and knowing everyone was watching a finish that meant nothing, she did a much safer grab with both hands.
She stuck the landing this time, but it didn't matter.
"I just felt like doing a nice, fun truck-driver grab, and that's the spirit that it is," she said. "I mean, it's a bummer, but then it came off and I was like, 'Still can have some fun in some way.' "
The real fun, though, was saved for Ricker, who easily defeated Deborah Anthonioz of France in the final. Olivia Nobs of Switzerland won the bronze.
Even in Canada, where they were celebrating their second gold medal of the Olympics, very few thought the story would end this way. Not so surprising that Ricker won, but shocking that she didn't have to beat her main rival with the gold on the line.
"I don't know what happened to Lindsey in the semifinals," Ricker said. "We both had a really close start going into the first and second corner, and I don't know what happened."
With Jacobellis out of the way, the final was a breeze.
After Helene Olafsen of Norway wiped out early in the race, Ricker took a huge lead on Anthonioz — think Jacobellis and her massive lead in the 2006 final — and did nothing to mess it up.