SnowboardingNewsLindsey Jacobellis

Olympic Snowboardcross Champion Lindsey Jacobellis Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

by Brian Pinelli

Lindsey Jacobellis celebrates after the women's snowboardcross finals at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 9, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Getty Images)

Twenty years after landing atop her first world cup snowboard podium, Lindsey Jacobellis accomplished the feat for the 60th time in her illustrious career, finishing second at a snowboardcross event in Montafon, Austria.

The 38-year-old double gold medalist from the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 still fearlessly charges down slick and sinuous snowboardcross courses, relying on tactics and vast experience to outgun riders half her age. She proved herself yet again, on March 17 in Austria.

“It feels great to be back on the podium – I had a hard start to the season with a couple of crashes that kept me out of the mix,” Jacobellis said, after the race. “I have just been trying to keep my body healthy and keep racing with these younger ladies.”

Jacobellis' first world cup snowboard podium came way back in September 2003, at a halfpipe event in Valle Nevado, Chile. She launched her career, finishing second, only behind U.S. teammate and fellow Olympic gold medalist, Hannah Teeter.

The Danbury, Connecticut, native honed her riding skills at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. Since her early accomplishment in Chile, Jacobellis has amassed 31 career victories across 120 world cup starts, not to mention five world and 10 X Games titles.

The five-time Olympian spoke about the keys to her longevity, competing in an unpredictable sport where crashes and injuries are part of the ride.

“Sometimes, it is hard competing against these girls – I’ve been on tour longer then they have been living, that’s just the reality,” said Jacobellis, in an interview with Team USA in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. “Some days I just don’t feel spry, it’s not happening, and everything hurts.

“Other days, it’s okay and I can manage – looking at my career as a whole, I’d say proper balance and taking care of my body as best as I could.

“One of my early coaches, Ross Hindman, gave me this discipline and structure that taught me how to be a professional athlete (in snowboarding). That was not as common back then, whereas 20 years ago, kids were just out having fun.

“I went to a sports-specific school and maintained a certain level of fitness in the gym, having good body awareness which I think have saved me from a lot of bad crashes, or at least to bounce back from them,” she said.

Jacobellis has persevered and overcome three knee injuries over her lengthy career. She recently got tangled up with opponents and crashed dramatically in a World Cup quarterfinal in Sierra Nevada, Spain, bruising her hip, but averting further injury. She also cracked her helmet.

This past weekend’s podium finish in Austria was the second of the season for Jacobellis. She kicked off the 2023-24 season teaming up with Jake Vedder for a third-place medal in a mixed team event.

Jacobellis has finished among the top 10 in the snowboardcross world cup standings over 18 of the past 19 seasons, dating to 2003-04. She currently stands 12th in the season standings and can achieve 19 of 20, with a solid performance at two races remaining in Mt. St. Anne, Canada, March 23-24.

(L-R) Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner pose on the podium after the mixed team snowboardcross finals at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 12, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Getty Images)

Jacobellis reflected upon her Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 success, the second of her two gold medals coming in the Olympic debut of the snowboard cross mixed team event. She shared glory with her teammate Nick Baumgartner, who at age 40 became the oldest Olympic snowboard champion.

“The team event is such a different dynamic event and energy and I felt really relaxed,” Jacobellis said. “It was only when I was in the gate after Nick and it was like ‘Oh s***,’ Nick is going to want a medal, I have to pull myself out of Cloud Nine and really focus on the task at hand.”

Jacobellis executed a tactically proficient race, demonstrating patience and bringing home victory by two-tenths of a second over Italian Michela Moioli.

“It was awesome to be able to give Nick that moment and working together was pretty special because we had been teammates for 17 years,” she said.

“Hugging her being so happy to give her that second medal and for her to help me finally get my medal was so cool,” Baumgartner said. “We rose together as a team.”

At the Beijing 2022 Games, team snowboardcross was one of 11 mixed gender team events. For the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, the total will rise to 12. Jacobellis believes mixed gender events will continue to attract positive feedback and attention.

“It’s awesome because it now gives this surge of all these young women coming into play and with both genders working together to achieve a common goal,” Jacobellis said. “We can accomplish more working together in this team dynamic and when you also have to be the strongest team, it says more about the country.”

Her magical moments at the Winter Games in China were redemption from 16 years previous, when Jacobellis, a five-time Olympian, infamously grabbed her snowboard while soaring through the air off the penultimate jump, prematurely celebrating victory and falling to the snow. She recovered for silver, but global headlines focused upon her lost opportunity at the Olympic Winter Games Torino 2006. Then age 20, it was an agonizing, life-changing moment for Jacobellis.

(L-R) Lindsey Jacobellis, Tanja Frieden (Switzerland) and Dominique Maltais (Canada) celebrate after the women's snowboardcross finals at the Olympic Winter Games Torino 2006 on Feb. 17, 2006 in Bardonecchia, Italy. (Photo by Getty Images)

Unforgiving – Lessons From the Fall

Jacobellis reveals that she only recently watched a video replay of the Torino 2006 final, for the first time, and just because she needed to chronicle what went wrong in her new autobiography.

“Why would I want to watch something that brought me so much pain and brought me so much shame – that’s ultimately what I felt even if I brought home a medal,” Jacobellis said.

Jacobellis released her memoir titled Unforgiving – Lessons From the Fall written with co-author Daniel Paisner this past October.

The book coincides with her fellow Olympic champion Baumgartner, who also recently released his own: Gold From Iron: a Humble Beginning, Olympic Dreams and the Power in Getting Back Up. informs that the two snowboard-themed books are frequently bought together.

“Both are great inspirational stories for anyone to help motivate or encourage someone to pick themselves up after they fall, because falling is inevitable,” Jacobellis says, while also joking “just try not to do it on the world stage.”

“The reason why I called the book Unforgiving was because how the media treated me and the whiplash I got through every Olympic cycle, and more importantly how unforgiving I was to myself. 

“I think it’s a huge component to be looking at nowadays where people are more open talking about self-awareness, mental health and how you want to grow and move on from your setbacks.

“It took me a long time to figure this out because I pushed it aside and tried to compartmentalize it – that worked at some moments, but not during the Olympic cycles.”

There could be a touch of serendipity if Jacobellis were to arrive at the Olympic snowboard cross starting gate, in Italy, come Milano Cortina 2026, two decades after her Torino troubles. A sixth Olympic Winter Games would be a sweet final ride to a record-setting career, should the right ingredients come together.

“I’m just taking it one year at a time and trying to enjoy, seeing what other opportunities I can experience,” Jacobellis said. “I’ve committed so much time to boarder cross and I’ve had the opportunity to do public speaking and engage with a younger audience, so to now share my story and give hope to a younger audience is very rewarding.

“Right now, I’m just working through this season, trying to get out in one piece and that’s all she wrote.”