Amidst the chaos of Snowboarder X, it took the most decorated boardercross rider of all time to walk away from X Games Aspen with a gold medal.
Jacobellis looked to top the podium out of a stacked women’s field. She finished second in qualifying behind Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic, the defending Olympic gold medalist. Jacobellis and Samkova each won their respective semifinal heats, setting up a battle of the top dogs in the final. Jacobellis trailed Samkova for most of the last run before taking a sharp inside line on a turn to steal the lead. Though it was a drag race to the finish she was able to hold on from there, crossing the finish line mere inches before Samkova in a photo finish. Both riders had to wait at the bottom of the course to find out which one of them won.
When the official times finally came in, it was Jacobellis getting the gold medal hung around her neck. This was her 10th career snowboardcross gold medal at the X Games, more than any other rider in history.
“It never gets easier, I always feel so rattled at the top,” Jacobellis said. “But I’m working on the mental game and my approach, focusing on one race at a time. Qualify, be top three, and do what I can control.”
The last time Jacobellis missed an X Games Snowboarder X podium was in 2002, as she’s medaled in 11 straight X Games appearances. Her 10 golds in 13 starts is the highest win percentage of any athlete with at least 10 X Games starts in one discipline. She’s a four-time world champion (2005, 2007, 2011 and 2015), winning every year she’s entered the event, and has 27 wins on the FIS World Cup circuit. She’s a three-time Olympian, winning silver in 2006, finishing fifth in 2010 and seventh in 2014.