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In one of the most unforgettable moments of the 2006 Winter Games, Lindsey Jacobellis, while way out in front, thought she had her race won, got cocky and hotdogged (snowboated/showboarded) a jump and kissed the gold medal goodbye. Notice I said, "the" gold medal and not "her" gold medal. This is because she was not competing just for herself in the X-Games or the Nationals, this is the Olympic Games where you also compete on behalf of your nation. She lost "our" gold medal.
There are different ways to grab a snowboard in the air to help stabilize yourself...some are safe and appropriate for racing and some are fancy and more risky and appropriate for competitions which judge on style or when you're just horsing around with your friends.
Here is Lindsey Jacobellis: (1) using the "Indy," in which she gets in a tuck and grabs the front-side edge between her feet; (2) using the "Truck Driver," which entails grabbing both edges near the front foot; and (3) performing the "Backside Method Grab," in which she grabs the backside edge and swings the board out sideways.
Now, I'm well aware I'm taking this way harder than I should but that's because I so abhor showing off. If a game is about points, then that's all its about. You don't get extra credit for style. The world's most amazing miss can't compare to the most dull and routine make. If it's a race, then time and/or place is all that matters. [And, no, I don't understand ski jumping which measures distance and awards style points. I say chuck the judges, get out the lasers and give the gold to the flopping spaz who can jump the farthest.]
The Times of Trenton columnist Steve Politi said it well:
The real sad part? She doesn't get it. Even hours after her race, as she faced an uncomfortable grilling on a teleconference about her ill-timed showboating, she didn't see a problem with what she had done.
"I was having fun," the 20-year-old from Stratton, Vt., said. "Snowboarding is fun. I was feeling great that I was ahead. I wanted to share with the crowd my enthusiasm. I messed up, and oh well, it happens."
This is what happened: Jacobellis embarrassed herself on the biggest stage in sports, and in doing so, confirmed for many the perception that American teenagers who belong to our X Games culture care more about highlight DVDs and video-game moves than winning and losing.
Later in the teleconference, she admitted she was going for flash, but didn't understand why it was a big deal. "It's just a race," she said. For some, the Olympics are a dream that burns as bright as that massive torch.
If this is just a race, it shouldn't be in the Games. If Jacobellis feels that way, neither should she.
Attacking the snowboarder culture, Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey spoke for the 40-and-over crowd:
It probably would be a good thing if somebody explained to the snowboarders that once they decided to sit at the adults' table, they made the tacit agreement to play to win. They made the decision to act like Olympians, which now means to act professional.
I wonder how much of this is the result of our schools and children's leagues no longer keeping score or having winners and losers? Competitors in the most important competition in the world not really caring about winning would have previously been unimaginable to me. I'm also curious to see if Jacobellis' sponsors, Visa, Dunkin' Donuts and Kelloggs, want to associate their products with putting style before substance?
I wish two things for Lindsey Jacobellis, a change in attitude and great success in the future including gold in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 2010.Posted by Don |
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