February 18, 2006

By now most people have probably seen footage or at least heard about the mistake that cost Lindsey Jacobellis the gold in the Snowboard Cross event in the Olympics. Watching it, I felt awful for her. Cruising to an easy victory, she threw in what appeared to be a celebratory move as she approached the finish line and, landing on the edge of the board, fell and allowed one boarder to pass her up for gold while she got the silver. It was painful to watch and it brought up all the memories I have of making similar mistakes in sports or elsewhere in life — mistakes that were caused by losing focus at a crucial point or getting caught up in the moment. Jacobellis seemed to handle it about as well as you can, responding willingly to the media and admitting to messing up. Unfortunately, what should be a proud achievement for her will probably be a source of pain, as the silver medal serves to remind her of what could have been. The media will probably also be difficult to deal with, as they tend to focus on these sorts of things, but I hope she is able to shake this off and enjoy the rest of her time in Torino. To me, this seems like a simple error and dwelling on it won’t help her in her future career, which should be bright judging by the rest of her final run on the course. One of the things I like most about the snowboarding events in this Olympics is the excitement and pure love of the sport that the competitors have as compared to the ultrseriousness of other events. In the end, Jacobellis’ fault was one of exuberance, not arrogance or malice; and I can easily forgive the first when the last two are so readily available elsewhere. Congratulations on a nearly flawless run, Lindsey. Don’t let the memory of one short moment ruin the Olympic experience for you.


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