2006 Winter Games
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Jacobellis says 'trick' was necessary
She wants you to know she does that from time to time. Lindsey Jacobellis sometimes grabs the nose of her board on jumps during snowboard cross, to stabilize herself in mid air.

Jacobellis grabs her nose, but not to spite the race.

"I'd been having trouble with that jump all day," Jacobellis said after she took a spill and missed certain gold in the women's snowboard cross final on Friday. "The wind has just been catching me weird and I tried all sorts of different grabs to see which one would work, to try to stabilize myself in mid air.

"It didn't work," Jacobellis continues -- but if you watched the race, you already knew that.

If you didn't see it, here is what happened.

Within sight of the finish line, and leading practically by the length of a snowboard halfpipe, Jacobellis took off from the penultimate jump at the Bardonecchia course and grabbed the nose of her board. Unable to land cleanly, she fell to the ground, sputtered to get back on track, and was surpassed by a Swiss competitor.

Jacobellis won the silver.

A trick wasn't necessary. Snowboard cross -- a thrilling, new event that plays as a sort of cross between snowboarding and short track speedskating -- is a pure race around a curving, snow-packed course. The track features long moguls and jumps.

No points are awarded for tricks.

But snowboarding is a flashy sport, see. The halfpipe event especially, but even this new incarnation. This event which has created (deserved) buzz here in Italy, has produced large, boisterous crowds drawn to the excitement of the four-rider heats, this exciting event is still contested by:

Snowboarders.

The new Olympic athlete, with their laid back attitude and style. The snowboarder can teach us a little about how to handle winning on a large stage like this. Indeed, some of them have: Shaun White, Hannah Teter and Seth Wescott -- Wescott in the men's cross on Thursday -- have all been gracious gold medal winners, have seemed to have had more fun competing than some of the athletes in other sports.

But on Friday, Jacobellis taught us how not to win. If the ultimate goal upon arrival at the Olympics is to win a gold, as it surely was for the world champion Jacobellis, then one can never celebrate until the goal has been achieved.

It ain't over until the fat lady brings you a flag at the bottom of the hill.

"I was definitely disappointed because I was focusing so hard on that jump and had been having trouble with it all day," Jacobellis said. "I'd been feeling myself getting thrown by it and when it came down to it I wasn't able to pull it together.

"I was so disappointed in myself because I am a fierce competitor and I put a lot of pressure on myself."

The grab "helps stabilize you in the air," Jacobellis said. "You're going so fast, it's not like a freestyle jump where you're trying to create style. You're just trying to create stability because you're moving at such a fast rate."

Maybe it was the little devil snowboarder on Jacobellis' shoulder who told her to do grab the nose. Maybe it wasn't really necessary, or maybe it was.

Whatever the case, Jacobellis' fall on Friday -- so close to the finish line and without a competitor in sight -- ruined the chance of an American gold medal sweep in the four snowboarding events contested thus far.

"The silver medal at the Olympics is still a silver medal. The USA is on the podium anyway."

Said the laid back, little angel snowboarder on her other shoulder.

- Gerard Gallagher, Contributing Olympic Editor

 
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