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Lindsey Jacobellis finally strikes gold

Felix Tamsut AP, Reuters, dpa | Matt Pearson
February 9, 2022

Nearly 20 years after one of the most infamous falls in Winter Olympic history, Lindsey Jacobellis finally got her hands on a gold medal. Elsewhere, legal proceedings delayed a medal ceremony on the ice.

Lindsey Jacobellis with an American flag
Lindsey Jacobellis had to wait nearly 20 years to get the gold she cravedImage: MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Lindsey Jacobellis had waited half a lifetime for Olympic gold. The 36-year-old famously crashed out with a huge lead back in 2006 after attempting to style out one of her final jumps but made no such mistake on Wednesday after leading from the front.

"(People) can keep talking about (2006) 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 in answer to a question from DW after the race.

Jacobellis has won six world championship golds, but she had never won gold at the Olympics before, not even making the finals at the Vancouver and Sochi Games. Five days in, hers was the USA's first gold in Beijing. It had crossed her mind it would never come.

"It was definitely a possibility and I had that in my mind," she said. "But knowing that that's OK if that doesn't come, that it doesn't define who you are as person or who you are as athlete (helps).

"Any lady out here today had the ability to come out here and win. That's how our sport can even work at times. It's just a roll of the dice sometimes, and it's how the stars are aligned, how your body's feeling, how your board's running. It's just anyone's game sometimes."

Jacobellis described the feeling as "incredible" and said the level of competition was much higher than when she fell 18 years ago.

At 36, Jacobellis became the oldest American woman to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. This is her fifth Games.

Gold medals

The biggest hope for the United States' Alpine team at the Beijing Olympics , Mikaela Shiffrin, is having a tougher time, failing to finish for a second race in a row. Shiffrin's loss was Petra Vlhova’s gain in the women's slalom. The Slovak jumped from eighth into first after clocking an impressive time of 1 minute 44.98 seconds. Austrian Katharina Liensberger also made an impressive comeback, winning silver having seventh after the first run, while 2018 silver medal winner Wendy Holdener, of Switzerland, won bronze.

Norway's Birk Ruud became the first-ever Olympic champion in the men's freestyle big air with a total score of 187.5. Colby Stevenson, of the US, and Swede Henrik Harlaut won silver and bronze respectively.

Germany update

Lena Dürr had led the women's slalom after the first run, having been the first down the course known as the "Ice River." However, the 30-year-old went on to finish 0.07 seconds off a bronze medal, telling reporters afterward "it hurts a lot right now, especially given how close it was."

Vinzenz Geiger repeated his achievement from the 2018 Games by winning the gold medal in the men's individual normal hill/10 km Nordic combined after a strong finish, coming behind from the 11th place in the jumping. Compatriot Johannes Rydzek finished fifth, despite being in the lead 1.5 kilometers before the finish line. Germany’s Eric Frenzel, three-time Olympic champion, celebrated Geiger’s achievement from his hotel after testing positive for COVID.

“The race couldn’t have worked out better for me,” an overwhelmed Geiger told ZDF. “It’s unbelievable.”

Norway’s Joergen Graabak won the silver medal, with Lukas Greiderer of Austria taking bronze.

In other news

The medal ceremony for the team figure skating competition at the Beijing Olympics has been delayed because of an ongoing legal issue that could affect medalists, the IOC said. Specific details regarding the case have not been disclosed.

The Russian Olympic team were the winners of the event, with 15-year-old sensation Kamila Valieva making history, but the ceremony to award the Russian team the gold medals, the United States silver and Japan bronze was not held as scheduled on Tuesday.

Edited by James Thorogood

Bobsled training in a Munich office building