By Lori Riley, Hartford Courant
Lindsey Jacobellis fell in the semifinals of the Olympic snowboardcross while in the lead, dashing her hopes for a medal at the Sochi Olympics Sunday.
Jacobellis, who grew up in Roxbury but went to the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, was in the lead in the semifinal round when she fell just above the final jump.
She finished seventh after racing in the consolation run and beating five others.
Jacobellis, 28, finished second infamously at the 2006 Turin Olympics when she tried to grab her snowboard and fell with a big lead, giving her the silver medal and causing critics to castigate her for showboating. In 2010, she failed to make the finals after crashing through a gate and getting disqualified.
“I don’t think it has to do with the Olympics,” Jacobellis told the New York Times. “It’s just a fluke of when things work out for me and when they don’t.”
Jacobellis has been one of the most decorated snowboardcross riders in history, winning eight X Games gold medals and three world championships as well as the silver medal in Turin. But the gold has eluded her. And after time off from the sport because of an ACL tear and two subsequent surgeries, Jacobellis was ready to claim her spot at the top.
“There’s worse things in life than not winning,” Jacobellis told the Los Angeles Times. “A lot worse. Of course, it’s very unfortunate that this didn’t work out for me. You can take it in stride. A lot of people can say what they want and put as many opinions out there – that don’t know how do this sport – and that’s fine. It’s not going to affect how I view myself and how I look at my past resume for everything else.”
Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic won the gold, Dominique Maltais of Canada the silver and Chloe Trespeuch of France the bronze medal.
The course was difficult and two of the first six women crashed in the qualifying round. Jacqueline Hernandez of the United States ended up with a concussion and Helene Olafsen of Norway apparently hurt her knee, according to the New York Times.
Jacobellis just couldn’t recover from a bad landing.
“I thought I was going to be able to pull it off, and as soon as I hit that snow, it just slows you down so quickly,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “It makes your body continue going and then there’s no way to recover from it. Once you stop on this course, you can’t continue.”
Her teammate Faye Gulini finished fourth and felt bad for Jacobellis.
“I think people don’t understand how much pressure is put on her,” Gulini told the Los Angeles Times. “It breaks my heart because I think it takes the fun out of it just for this event. She loves the sport. She’s a phenomenal snowboarder. But it’s in her head.
“I’ve never had that kind of pressure on me. But I know that it just breaks her as an athlete and it makes it hard for her. She said her head was in it and so maybe it was just kind of a fluke mistake and it’s a bummer if that’s the case because I think she deserves more.”