By Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger
Vermont-schooled snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis has won her second gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
The Stratton Mountain School graduate first snagged gold at the women’s snowboard cross Wednesday, Feb. 9 —16 years after infamously stumbling in the homestretch of the 2006 inaugural race — the first domino in a line of Olympic falls in 2010 and 2014 and a flameout in the final in 2018.
“That was not in my mind,” Jacobellis told reporters after her victory. “If I had tried to spend time on the thought of redemption, then it’s taking away focus on the task at hand.”
With her win, the 36-year-old five-time Olympian became the oldest snowboarder to ever medal and the oldest American woman to secure gold in any sport.
“This level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis told reporters. “I felt like a winner just that I made it into finals.”
The gold medal should significantly change how Jacobellis is covered by the media, which despite being “the most decorated female snowboard cross athlete of all time,” according to Olympics.com, hasn’t always been covered favorably due big errors at top events.
“With 30 World Cup wins, 10 X Games gold medals and six world championships, she is the greatest snowboardcross racer in the sport’s history,” ESPN.com has written. “But at the past four Olympics, she earned a reputation for falling short when it counts.”
Jacobellis, for her part, expressed no regrets about her fall that started it all.
“I probably would have quit the sport at that point because I wasn’t really having fun with it — there was so much pressure on me to be the golden girl,” Jacobellis told reporters. “It really shaped me into the individual that I am and kept me hungry and helped me keep fighting.”
Then on Saturday, Feb. 12, Jacobellis, and teammate Nick Baumgartner, 40, won mixed team snowboard cross — again making history.
Jacobellis title as oldest snowboarder to ever medal lasted only a few short days, as teammate Baumgartner snatch it away with their collective victory Saturday. (She is still the oldest American woman to secure gold.)
“We’re the ’80s babies,” Jacobellis told NBC afterward. “We came in hot today and we’re really excited about it.”
The mixed team medal sparked headlines such as the Washington Post’s “Golds for the olds.”
Both riders were asked if they may return to defend their title in four years. “It’s obviously feasible,” Jacobellis told reporters. “It’s just I might want to try something else or go on a different path … right now, still having fun and just on the high from these last couple of days.”
Folks in Danbury, Vermont, where her family had a weekend home from which she trained, cheered her on with support.