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Lindsey Jacobellis Wins the USA’s First Gold at Beijing

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BEIJING — The fifth time is the charm for U.S. snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis.

The 36-year-old won her first gold on Wednesday during the women’s snowboard cross event at the Beijing Olympics — getting the U.S. its first gold at the Games. She is also the oldest American woman to win a Winter Olympics gold medal.

The race was vindication for her disappointing loss at the 2006 Torino Olympics. As she approached the finish line in that competition, she celebrated early and wiped out. Jacobellis lost her lead over Tanja Frieden of Switzerland and came in second to win silver.

She failed to medal at the Pyeongchang, Sochi, and the Vancouver Olympics.

But Jacobellis said she doesn’t look at this gold medal as redemption for Torino.

“I never thought of it that way. That was not in my mind. I wanted to just come here and compete,” she said. “It would have been a nice, sweet thing, but I think if I had tried to spend [time on] the thought of redemption, then it’s taking away focus on the task at hand, and that’s not why I race.”

On Wednesday, Jacobellis maintained her focus and held off competitors Chloe Trespeuch, from France, and Meryeta Odine, from Canada.

Jacobellis reacts after crossing the finish line to win the gold medal during the women's snowboard cross big final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Clive Rose / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Jacobellis reacts after crossing the finish line to win the gold medal during the women’s snowboard cross big final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

In snowboard cross, four racers fight their way down a winding course, bumping and clashing as they fly over jumps. Jacobellis started strong and never looked back – easily crossing the line ahead of Trespeuch, Odine, and Australia’s Belle Brockhoff.

Jacobellis, who is 9 years older than her podiummate Tespeuch and 12 years older than bronze-medalist Odine, had her 36 years on the mind heading into the race.

“This feels incredible because this level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis said. “So I felt like I was a winner just that I made it into finals, because that’s been a challenge every time. “

Jacobellis’ win ends an unusual five-day long streak of no gold medals for the U.S. at the Winter Games.

In the last eight Winter Olympics it’s taken, on average, 1.75 days for the U.S. to win its first gold.

Copyright 2022 NPR.

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