Lindsey Jacobellis wins the Women's Snowboard Cross gold medal during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 9, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Lindsey Jacobellis won her long-awaited snowboard cross gold medal on Wednesday at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Joy radiated from the face of the most decorated snowboard cross athlete when she crossed the finish line first at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China. The 36-year-old won her first career Olympic gold medal and the first Olympic gold for Team USA at the Beijing Games.
"It just seemed like an unbelievable moment,” Jacobellis said about crossing the finish line. “It didn't seem real at the time."
Jacobellis controlled the race from the starting gate and didn’t let up on her lead through the finish line, becoming the Olympic champion. Jacobellis said she knew if she got out ahead, she could stay ahead.
"All these ladies out here have the potential to win and today it just worked out for me that my starts were good, that my gliding was great, and everything just worked for me today,” she said.
France’s Chloe Trespeuch took silver and Meyeta Odine from Canada rounded out the podium in bronze. Absent from the big final was France’s Julia Pereira de Sousa Mabileau, the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 silver medalist who crashed out in her semifinal race.
First-time Olympian Stacy Gaskill represented Team USA in the small final race, placing seventh overall. Americans Meghan Tierney and Faye Gulini finished 12th and 13th respectively.
Jacobellis put down strong races throughout the women’s snowboard cross competition, winning each of her heats leading up the big final. She said she already felt like a winner just qualifying for the final race.
"This feels incredible because this level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis said. “So, I felt like I was a winner just that I made it into finals, because that's been a challenge every time.”
Despite her past Olympic results, she entered her races as a gold-medal favorite each Games and conversation about her 2006 results have persisted over the last 16 years.
"They can keep talking about  all they want because it really shaped me into the individual that I am and kept me hungry and really helped me keep fighting in the sport," she said.
Outside of Olympic competition, Jacobellis cemented her legacy as the most decorated snowboard cross athlete winning six world championship titles (five individual and one team), 10 X Games gold medals and 31 world cup wins throughout her career.
With her 2022 gold-medal win, Jacobellis added a few more impressive feats to her athletic resume. She became the oldest medalist in snowboard cross, the oldest female Winter Olympic gold medalist for Team USA, and the third woman ever to win multiple medals in the event, joining Dominique Maltais of Canada (2006 bronze, 2014 silver) and Eva Sankova of Czech Republic (2014 gold, 2018 bronze).
It’s a legacy the 36-year-old racer was reminded of by her younger competitors at Wednesday’s finals.
"Well, I know Belle [Brockhoff from Australia] came to me after racing and she's like, 'I'm so happy that this happened for you because I was little when I watched you in 2006,” Jacobellis said. “If you look at the [Torino 2006] start list I was at high school when some of these girls were born."
While the conversation around her 16-year fight back to the podium surrounded her gold-medal win, Jacobellis said she would have been okay to end her Olympic career without another medal.
“"It was definitely a possibility and I had that in my mind,” Jacobellis aid. “But knowing that that's okay, [I know] that it doesn't define who you are as a person or who you are as an athlete.”
Snowboard cross action continues with Team USA's Hagen Kearney, Nick Baumgartner, Mick Dierdorff and Jake Vedder in the men's qualifying rounds starting at 10:15 p.m. EST Wednesday.