WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — No gold for Lindsey Jacobellis this time, either.
No medal at all, in fact.
And once again, no one to blame but herself.
Looking to redeem herself after giving away a victory four years ago, Jacobellis’ return trip to the Olympics was even worse. Early in her semifinal race on the snowboardcross course Tuesday, she lost her bearings on a jump, wobbled and skittered to try to regain her balance, but clipped the outside of a gate.
She raised her hands in disbelief, then clasped them over her helmet. The most dominant rider in the world for most of the last decade didn’t even make the medal round.
“Lindsey just landed it off balance,” U.S. coach Peter Foley said. “She changed her line to go up in the bank and gravity from the bank pushed her into the gate.”
Eliminated, Jacobellis looped back onto the course to get down the hill. Riding alone, she grabbed the board with both hands — not only one, the way she did when she fell and blew her lead in 2006. She stuck the landing this time. Hard to send a message, though, when you’re coming down in last place.
First place went to Canada’s Maelle Ricker, who was in tight quarters with Jacobellis on the jump that sent Jacobellis out. Ricker 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 expected to see Lindsey in the final,” Ricker said.
Nobody in Canada was complaining, of course. Ricker is the top-ranked rider in the world this year, who had her own making up to do because of that 2006 Olympic final.
Long before Jacobellis hot-dogged her jump, fell and blew her huge lead, Ricker lost her balance and went flying off the course and into the netting. She had to be taken off the course on a stretcher with a concussion. Four years later, she says she doesn’t remember much from that day but felt like there was some unfinished business to take care of.
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 Deborah Anthonioz of France — think Jacobellis and her massive lead in the 2006 final — and did nothing to mess it up.
Moments earlier, in one of the most cruel ironies of the whole day, Jacobellis enjoyed a similar finish. But that was in the fifth-place race, the race that the semifinal losers are relegated to — and certainly not one Jaco thought she’s be participating in on this day.