Four years after a premature celebration ruined a sure gold medal, Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. stumbles again and failed to make the final in women's snowboardcross.
WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. — Lucky Lindsey, they used to call her. Yeah, used to.
For all but two days of her life, the nickname has been appropriate for snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis. Lucky Lindsey dominates her sport, stars in Visa commercials and charms America with her unforgettable smile and curly golden locks.
Then, when she gets to the Olympics, Lucky Lindsey turns into a stepsister that even Cinderella would try to hide.
Four years ago, she was Lunkhead Lindsey, the gold medalist who hot-dogged her way to silver.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Pac-12 announces major shake-up to conference football championship format
- Looking at how the Jamal Adams trade worked out now that all picks have been made
- US Soccer equalizes pay in milestone with women, men
- Former Sonic Spencer Haywood calls his portrayal in HBO's 'Winning Time' a 'blessing'
- Questions surround ex-Seahawk Earl Thomas' personal life, NFL legacy after arrest
Tuesday, hoping to glide to redemption, she biffed again, and, well, now there’s no doubt what we must call her.
During the Olympics, she becomes the embodiment of Murphy’s law. It’s too bad because, despite the showboat reputation she acquired at the last Games, Jacobellis seems like a fine person. She’s giddy. She’s funny. She’s cute. She could be an Olympic darling, if not for her poor judgment and terrible luck.
She didn’t even make the snowboardcross finals at Cypress Mountain. Early in her semifinal heat, on the first major jump and turn, Luckless Lindsey lost her balance, stumbled and tried to right herself, but she’d fallen off course. She brushed against the side of a gate and immediately realized it meant a disqualification.
Luckless Lindsey put both hands on her helmet, shocked, dismayed, angry. Just like that, her rebound effort turned into a repeat disaster.
“I just landed a little front-footed,” she said, trying hard to act like she wasn’t disappointed. “I feel OK, though. Sometimes, you can’t control the things you want to. That’s how it goes in boardcross.”
If it were any other athlete here, we’d probably shrug off the misfortune and proceed to the next event. We can’t do that with Jacobellis, however.
Four years ago, she introduced us to this sport in the worst way imaginable. She lost a huge lead and a certain gold medal because she attempted a premature victory stunt called a method grab, landed on the edge of her snowboard, fell, lost her gold medal and stumbled into the silver.
Since then, she has been considered Lunkhead Lindsey. She became a lightning rod for fuddy-duddies who consider snowboarding events unbecoming of the Olympics.
No one mentions that she has won gold at six of the past seven X Games. No one mentions that she’s perhaps the most influential athlete in the history of women’s snowboardcross. No one cares, except for every four years. That’s the curse of Olympic sports. And, speaking of curses, which sorcerer did Jacobellis upset?
“It’s definitely not the end of the world for me,” Luckless Lindsey said. “It’s unfortunate that the rest of the world sees just this race and four years ago. I don’t have a good track record with the general public.”
And it bothers her. Oh, it bothers her. Before the Games, she wondered what she’d need to do to have her accomplishments overshadow her blunder. This was her big chance. The redemption tale is richest in sports. Journalists flocked to Cypress Mountain to see Lunkhead Lindsey become Liberated Lindsey.
Instead, she experienced Olympic torment once more.
After the event, after Canada’s Maelle Ricker won a gold medal that could’ve been hers, Jacobellis rushed through the media mixed zone and ignored reporters. It took her 90 minutes before she answered questions. The prolonged cooling down period will do nothing to dissuade those who consider her a brat.
In fairness, drug testing contributed to Jacobellis’ delay. But she should’ve talked before the test like every other athlete. Facing the music always does the image good. Right now, Luckless Lindsey needs all the understanding she can get.
“I’m still only 24, and already I’ve made a significant mark in the sport,” Jacobellis said in her defense.
She can try again in four years if she dares. In the meantime, she’d better figure out where her enemies are hiding her voodoo doll.
Well, at least Luckless Lindsey has an endless supply of defiance. We saw it in her last performance of these Games. In snowboardcross, there’s a consolation race called the small final. Minutes after wrecking her redemption hopes, Jacobellis went back up the mountain and won that small final.
But on the last jump of the semifinal race, what did she do? She attempted a trick called “the truck driver.” The truck didn’t wreck, either.
Hey, the girl has got her own style. It never works at the Olympics, but you always know what to expect from Luckless Lindsey. She’s a consistent calamity.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer