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Feb 18 2006

Lindsey Jacobellis - Style Over Substance

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.

367-indy-truck-method.jpg

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.

368-jacobellis-jump.jpg

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.]

369-jacobellis-fall.jpg

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."

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?

370-jacobellis-second.jpg

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 |

27 Comments

  1. #1
    cook said on February 22, 2006 | Reply

    I watched in amazement as the media immediately jumped on Lindsey’s case for falling at the finish line. She fell—big deal. Let them talk who have never fallen. Her life is more than snowboarding.

    I’m proud of Lindsey for being there, for making the effort to be the best. She, along with the other Olympic athletes, inspires me in my small way to put forth my daily best regardless of the outcome. The Olympics are a celebration of the human spirit to never give up. Lindsey is part of that celebration.

  2. #2
    Don said on February 22, 2006 | Reply

    No one including myself are jumping on Lindsey simply because she fell. Rather, we are critical of her because of why she fell and her attitude about it afterwards.

    It's a big deal when a person falls because they were goofing off instead of trying their best especially in the most important athletic event in the world and then having the attitude afterward that it was no big deal and that needlessly being flashy was alright. How many times did speed skater Dan Jansen fall and I and most everyone else had nothing but sympathy for him as he was trying his best, not showing off, when he fell.

    There's nothing wrong with being "proud of Lindsey for being there," she's the best in the world and very much deserved to be there. But, do not be proud of her "for making the effort to be the best," because she did not do that. She made the effort to look the best and what she got was second best…well below that which she was capable.

    I'm glad she inspires you. Arguably though, absent a change of heart, Ms. Jacobellis stands more for giving it your second best as long as you look good in the process.

  3. #3
    Jacqueline Struck said on February 23, 2006 | Reply

    I dont understand why you people are still talking about it. i am a huge fan of lindsey and i will stand by her no matter what happens. the poor girl is never going to forgive herself and everybody grilling her about it getting pissed isnt gonna change what happend. she screwed up. she admitted that. what do you want her to do? turn back time? im sure if she could she would. shes young. she will learn from her mistake..like all of us do. let it go its not the end of the world.

  4. #4
    Debbie Graham said on February 26, 2006 | Reply

    Why are people even critizing Lindsey. She brought home the silver unlike Bode who bragged about drinking and skiing and didn't bring home anything (that's something to be ashamed of not Lindsey). Lindsey was doing what we all should do enjoying what she was doing and living for the moment because tomorrow may never come. She should enjoy her moment, she deserved to and she still brought home a medal. Lindsey stand proud, you deserve too!!!! We all still love and hope you continue on!!!! You go Girl!!!! Debbie

  5. #5
    Barry Michaels said on February 26, 2006 | Reply

    What do people want her to do, feel worse?
    Lindsey Jacobellis made a mistake, but all great champions have a brain fart now and then. Babe Ruth got caught stealing to end a World Series. Fred Merkle cost his team a pennant. Brian Sipe threw an interception when a short field goal could've won the game for the Browns in a 1980 playoff. Referees err, umpires err. But we seem determined to define individuals in one extreme or the other - as great for five minutes of achievement or losers for their failure. This is oversimplification thanks to our own laziness.
    The true test of Lindsey Jacobellis is not in a press conference with negative media types, many of whom have predetermined what they're going to say about her. It's in how she fares NEXT, when she competes and more significantly as a person. Will she be a good daughter? A good mother perhaps someday?
    This is what matters. She made a mistake in Torino.
    Let's not ask her to become the next Donnie Moore and be destroyed by her error.

  6. #6
    Don said on February 27, 2006 | Reply

    Debbie, you defend Lindsey saying she was "enjoying what she was doing and living for the moment" and you criticize Bode for his behavior. But, if you ask him, he'd likely say that is exactly what he was doing, enjoying himself and living for the moment. At least Bode gave it his all on the slopes and his results were not the result of hotdogging...at least not while performing. It's a unique perspective you have, defending Lindsey Jacobellis yet being critical of Bode Miller. I can't reconcile their behavior in such a manner.

    Barry, I have no desire to make Lindsey Jacobellis feel better or worse. If I want anything, it's simply that her actions be reported frankly and honestly and to serve as a lesson for others as well as for herself. I don't want anything sugarcoated in feelgood-psychobabble. I am also curious about what would cause someone to do what she did and the extent to which any such cause is pervasive in our culture, particularly that of American youth. And, I agree, there are things in life more important than the Olympics by which to judge someone.

  7. #7
    francesca said on February 27, 2006 | Reply

    Don, you seem to have a lot of time on your hands. While Lindsey is out there busting her [butt] year-round training and devoting a significant part of her life to the sport, you seem to be spending your time exercising your mouth. I know Lindsey personally. Don't worry, she'll be hard enough on herself. And, she'll pull through, learn something, and be a better person because of it. If your intent is to get a message across to the young people in our country, then please do not let one moment in time define a person. Lindsey is a wonderful role model to all young people. She is smart, caring, and has her priorities straight. Fortunately, she is strong enough not to let stone-throwers make her believe in herself less.

  8. #8
    francesca said on February 27, 2006 | Reply

    So you have to sift through comments before posting them??? Will you only post the ones you feel you can adequately answer?

  9. #9
    Don said on February 27, 2006 | Reply

    Francesca, as to me having a lot of time on my hands, appearances can be deceiving.

    I have only deleted one non-spam comment out of 800+ comments in the 21 months I have had my blog. And that commenter made a grossly inappropriate, off topic comment that anyone would agree should have been deleted. Otherwise, it all comes through uncensored...even though I have zero obligation to do so. And, despite my history of non-censoring, I still reserve the right to censor as I see fit. Your post got caught up in my filters because of the word "a$$" which I have changed to "butt." This is, after all, the Danz "Family" website.

    I am glad to hear that Lindsey is as good a person as you say. Whether she or anyone else likes it or not, she is a role model to thousands, so I'm glad to hear you speak so highly of her. If I haven't already been clear, I certainly do not wish her any ill will. I am simply critical of her actions and comments (the ones I have heard). And then curious whether such was an anomaly or indicative of something more. If Lindsey weren't as strong as you say, I might have suggested she try something a little less public and non-competitive.

    You call me a "stone-thrower" but if no one was critical of Lindsey wouldn't people possibly take away the message that her hotdogging was acceptable? Some in the snowboarding community still argue that she did nothing wrong. I, and people like me, are simply tyring to point out our position to the contrary. I don't see anything wrong with that.

    Finally, since you "know Lindsey personally" maybe you can answer this question which has been bugging me: Why do snowboard cross racers wear baggy clothing while every other winter racing sport wears slick aerodynamic form fitting clothing to help them go faster? I admit there's a lot about the sport that I don't know but this gives the impression that the competitors care more about how cool they look than what will make them go just a little faster. And, I don't believe because it's more comfortable is a good reason because I'm sure other sports' competitors would like to be more comfortable just as much but they make the comfort sacrifice in order to pick up those last few hundredths of a second. Nor, is range of movement a problem with today's modern materials and designs. Besides, if it gives skiers enough range of motions it should give snowboard crossers sufficient range of motion. Any guidance here to dissuade me from the hopefully inaccurate conclusion that snowboard cross racers are again putting style over substance would be appreciated.

  10. #10
    francesca said on February 28, 2006 | Reply

    I don't think that my knowing Lindsey personally gives me the right to explain why athletes wear the gear they do, but I can speak to it somewhat. I can appreciate that you do not know much about the sport. That much is clear. And you seem to want to learn more, which may be difficult if you have so many preconceived opinions and criticisms. There are sports in the Olympics that I do not understand either, like curling, but I can try to appreciate it and be more open to learning more about it. Snowboarding in general does have a different feel than skiing. That has always been part of its roots- its own style, speed, look, attitude. Maybe it is different because there is more of a sense of community within the sport. Athletes have an agenda that not only includes pushing themselves and their own abilities, but also pushing the sport to new levels all the time. They are competitive athletes who enjoy winning, but snowboarders in general seem more supportive of competitors and are psyched for fellow snowboarders who are reaching new heights, trying new grabs, finding tighter tracks, going faster, or gapping crazy jumps. I have not heard of an incident caused by snowboarding gear, and if all the athletes are wearing similar coats and pants, than it shouldn't conflict with the speed of the sport. If all skiers in skier-x wore more comfortable gear then it may change the fastest qualifying time, but the actual race isn't about the fastest time down. It involves many factors. Maybe snowboarding "substance" has a meaning that you can't understand, or maybe many meanings that you haven't allowed yourself to discover....

  11. #11
    francesca said on February 28, 2006 | Reply

    p.s.- There are snowboarding racing events, like GS in which athletes do wear spandex.......... because those last few hundredths of a second are critical and the win is based solely on the speed of the race (unlike boarder-x, which involves being able to maneuver over differing types of terrain, speed-changes, safely passing others, hole shots, etc.).

  12. #12
    Johan von Bacci said on February 28, 2006 | Reply

    Who cares that she was showboating? You know who does? Everyone who has no right to cast that first stone anyway, that's who. I would have done the same, that's all I can say about me. I know there are many more who WOULD have than those who wouldn't. Besides, she'll be a much more famous silver medalist than she would as a gold and it just resonates that the media has more fun exploiting the mistake of a young woman competing in an olympic sport (notice the uncapitalization of "olympic" because after all, they are JUST GAMES) that was showboating, but what is more american than that anyway. Bigger cars, buildings, homes, bodies. That is the american way. Besides, didnt our "great" leader just let the UAE take control of our ports, spy on our people, and claim that he won his last election with the help of bin laden. let's focus on his strategery and downfalls to us as an american nation rather than ms. jacobellis trying to win us a medal with some flair. On a side note, if Lindsey is happening to read this for some reason that could only be fate, come find me, I think you are the best looking girl I have laid my eyes upon in my 23 years on this earth. I have never seen anyone glow like you and that's from pictures, I can't imagine being able to speak in your presence. A burst of sunshine if I've ever seen one.

  13. #13
    Ed said on March 8, 2006 | Reply

    My guess is that the people who criticized Lindsey Jacobellis for "hot-dogging" did not see the competition heading into the final race. It was brutal, with many athletes wiping out in the preliminary races. Jacobellis herself nearly came crashing down in one race when a competitor hit her board. Heck, two of the four finalists crashed in the gold medal race, and one was hauled off in a stretcher.

    Jacobellis did her country proud by making it into the final and earning a silver medal. She made a mistake, perhaps, but snowboarding is a sport where "styling" is part of the game and the fun, so I think she can be forgiven for showing a little exhuberance when she saw the finish line. Bob Costas' interview of Lindsey in the studio later that night was tacky and disgraceful. He should be ashamed of himself, and NBC should be ashamed of their sensational and unnecessarily harsh coverage of Jacobellis' mistake.

    Those who feel "cheated" out of a gold medal should get out on the slopes and start working on their snowboarding skills for 2010. Let's see how far they make it in the snowboardcross competition.

    I, for one, am proud of Lindsey Jacobellis.

  14. #14
    Marcus said on March 12, 2006 | Reply

    Anyone who criticizes anything that Lindsey Jacobellis does is out of their mind. Since when did any of these games, Olympic or not, become a matter of life and death? What's wrong with her going out and having fun? Bode Miller goes out and does the same thing and I think it's awesome.
    I don't see anyone who criticizes these atheletes going out and doing the things they do, so until the critics and the downers put any of these athletes down, especially Lindsey, I would like to see them go to the Olympics and compete for a medal. Then you can talk.
    It's all about having fun. When you lose the fun it no longer is worth doing.

  15. #15
    @mY said on March 14, 2006 | Reply

    Don ur a [edit]!! Lindsey is frikin amazing and all you can do is critisize her for what happend!!! And then your saying her additude is bad?! I'm a snowboarder and i've seen bad additudes at its worst and Lindsey is far from one! Do you not think she felt like [edit] after that!?? Do you think she just came down the hill after that and was like oh wellllll...yea she didn't do that! If I had that lead and I was goin' down about to get the gold, HELL YEA I WOULD HAVE PULLED THAT!! Shes prolly landed that trick a thousand times and this once she fell. Why don't you give her a break and pick on someone that couldent kick your [edit]!! GO LINDSEY!! :)

  16. #16
    Haley said on April 15, 2006 | Reply

    Hey Americans, the world knows that you're embarassed.

    I was watching the race live at home and it was so damn hilarious when she fell. I laughed my [butt] off. The commentators were saying that her race was "not a silver medal win, but a gold medal loss". Ha ha.

    How typical of Americans to show off when they have nothing to be cocky about.

  17. #17
    Don said on April 15, 2006 | Reply

    Haley,

    As critical as I am of Ms. Jacobellis, at no point have I or anyone I know, expressed any "embarrassment" over her fall. Disappointment, frustration and a little anger, sure but the only comment that has been made about about embarrassment was about the fact that "Jacobellis embarrassed herself."

    I agree that her race was "not a silver medal win, but a gold medal loss." But, your comment that Americans show off when they have nothing to be cocky about makes no sense. Americans are, unfortunately, cocky sometimes because we have the best damn country in the world.

    What is interesting, though, is non-Americans finding humor or taking pleasure in Lindsey Jacobellis falling. Your laughing at another's misfortune is far more telling about the inadequacies of you and your country than anything Lindsey Jacobellis did in the Olympics says about America.

  18. #18
    francesca said on April 17, 2006 | Reply

    Do you only take on the superficial, easy ones?

  19. #19
    Terry said on November 19, 2006 | Reply

    Whatever happened to Lindsey Jacobellis anyway? Did she lose all those corporate sposnsors? I guess people do care about hotdogging.

    Has francesca finally stopped whining?

    Terry

  20. #20
    John said on July 10, 2008 | Reply

    Well-written article. She could have made us proud. She embarrassed herself instead. She does not belong with real Olympians. She belongs in a skateboard park with Avril Lavigne as her soundtrack.

  21. #21
    TK said on February 1, 2010 | Reply

    I watched that race, and it was truly embarrassing what happened! I mean, it was a really tough race with skilled competitors falling left and right. This was a race, and she celebrated way too early before it was over. I have to give props to the gold medal winner who seized the opportunity and won the race.

    I'm hoping Lindsey Jacobellis has learned her lesson: Don't count your chickens before they hatch. I look forward to her being wiser and stronger in Vancouver--she is representing the United States of America, not just herself. I have faith that she will do great. And how she and all the American Olympic athletes carry themselves is a reflection of our great nation and great people to the rest of the world.

  22. #22
    winterolympics2010 replied to francesca on February 15, 2010 | Reply

    I know its has been 4 years and a lot must have changed in these years. Bygones are bygones. But this is what I have to say to the people who are disputing on this blog especially francesca who is taking Lindsey's side. I am glad you know her "personally" well enough to take her side which you should be. Good for you and her. But please don't be blind about not to accept criticism. The people who are bashing Lindsey about her showoff didn't really hate her but actually wanted her to win the Gold. They were on her side and they will still be on her side. It is that cockiness that is not acceptable. We are talking about Olympics here and not your any other competition. There are thousands are people dying to be a part of country's olympic team and are equally competitive. It is a pride one should have and should consider yourself to be fortunate. I don't care how good you are but a true champion is always down to earth and does not have cockiness. Once success goes to your head along with Cockiness you will be destroyed. Period. What people don't like about her is her attitude about as if nothing really happened. That's what is not acceptable. She think she is great and can do anything she wants. Once you have that attitude, you loose respect from others. Mind you these are the same people who watched her during 2006 olympics and felt sad and lil' angry about her attitude problem. As a champion, you should have will to win and hard working attitude but come on don't get cocky thinking you are the best and there is no other. Moment you start thinking, you loose that extra edge in your life. My dad always says, whenever I top the class in school in my grades, there is always someone elsewhere who could be as competitive or better than you. So be watchful and keep your feet on ground. Else you will fall and that's what happened to Lindsey. I can't even believe people like francesca cannot accept that fact that she was showing off and that caused her to loose the gold medal. People like francesca should take her side and help her move on but don't neglect criticism and avoid accepting it. Also don't give me that "age/maturity thing" or "it has been so long" excuses because when you compete on Olympic level, "age/maturity" does not count as excuses to avoid accepting faults. We hope that Lindsey wins Gold this time with right attitude and learn from her past mistakes. What people want to see is that she understand what happened last time and she works on it to improve her image. It is not just about winning second time and showing hey I won so forget it kind of attitude. It is about showing other people, listen guys, I messed up and I am sole responsible. It is embarassing to me and I will make sure this mistake will never happen and I will work up to it to make everyone happy by winning gold next time. I always tell people, if you wanna style, do it in your park near your home but not on podium where world class players compete. People who bashing Lindsey and her friends wants them to understand that it is not about just winning but it is about the attitude and sportsmanship you carry in a competition.

  23. #23
    olympicsfan replied to francesca on February 17, 2010 | Reply

    As much I feel sad that Lindsey did not even quality for finals yesterday, I do not feel sorry for her. The reason behind, I still could see in her that she is spoiled, has attitude problems and she doesn't seems to care much. Her words like "I was just having fun" or "Yeah I guess I failed" or "Yeah I am a bit dissapointed" irks me alot. I mean come on, you can't such things when you representing an olympic team. This is not a Winter X-games but a much bigger audience Olympics here. There are millions of people who doesn't care about Olympics especially winter olympics. And there are millions of people who doesn't care about Winter X-games competitions. Winter X-games is more for people within the snowboarding community. Olympics has a different audience and it is much more superior in competition. There is a lot of pressure when you representing your country at that bigger level. At the same time I will admit she is a great athelete. There is no doubt about that. I don't think she understands how much hard work other atheletes do in order to reach that Gold medal. May be francesca who knows her personally should tell her she needs to change her attitude to gain respect. I am not rubbing the salt on the wounds but I am making a point to her to become a great respectable person without an ego or attitude. Look at the people like Roger Federer and Tiger Woods (ignore the infidelity controversy for time being). They do best and dominate at all levels in their fields but they are gentleman and have gained tremendous respect from the world. Now I am not going to go into Tiger Woods infidelity here as that is a separate topic of discussion. Despite having infidelity, Tiger Woods did not have attitude problems but was very matured and respectable person. Infidelity is something his personal problems in his marriage. But to the media, and to the world, both Roger and Tiger gladly accepted their faults and mistakes when they were losing because they cared much. Look at Roger when he lost wimbledon and Australian open, he cried on the podium in front of millions because it meant and hurt a lot to him. That's what I am talking about. I don't see that quality in Lindsey. Roger and Tiger never showoff or boast. They are gentleman and despite Tiger Woods infidelity, in terms of sports both Tiger Woods and Roger Federer are the best people a sport can offer. I can't say such words about Lindsey. :-(

  24. #24
    Don said on February 17, 2010 | Reply

    For the sake of full disclosure, if not apparent from the similar writing styles, the posters olympicsfan and winterolympics2010 above came from the same IP address and, therefore, are likely the same person.

    As for my take on Lindsey Jacobellis’ failure to qualify for the Olympic finals in Vancouver, I am sad for both her and our country. All the more reason not to have hot-dogged it in 2006, it might turn out to have been her only chance at gold, hopefully not—2014?.

    Finally, based on her comments so far after failing to qualify for the finals this time around, it appears that her attitude hasn’t changed all that much. I don’t know if its her generation, the snowboarder culture or just something about her or even something about me that is causing me to misinterpreting her words and mannerisms but there is simply something off-putting about her attitude. I’ll fully qualify my opinion as being based only on a teeny tiny itsy bitsy slice of her public persona and completely clouded by my own personal baggage, but every time I hear her speak I think “Oh!” that not quite the best thing to say or if the words are technically right her tone and expression are off. I sure wouldn’t want to be under the same spotlight and scrutiny and I don’t pretend to begin to know what incredible sacrifices and endless hard work she has endured (I assume she has sacrificed and worked hard…otherwise, it might explain a lot) nor can I begin to know what it is like to be in her shoes…but…I’ll say it as politely as I can…I’m just not a fan.

    I’ve said it repeatedly before and I’ll say it again, I absolutely wish her well in the coming years in whatever she pursues including snowboarding and maybe even the gold in 2014.

  25. #25
    juliecamptay said on February 23, 2010 | Reply

    i was appalled when i read this....all i can say is.."what an idiot.." i agree with the author...she was representing us.....act like it

  26. #26
    rocco said on March 9, 2010 | Reply

    how can you say jacobellis and boarder x shouldnt be in the games. of what i saw she was in first place for almost the whole race. and she got silver for america. everybodys acting like she lost the olympics for america, shes also young. you cant forget what she does in the x games every year too. just a fall. i always see people do it in this sport.

  27. #27
    Connor said on April 22, 2010 | Reply

    It's not about winning. Lindsey's probably accomplished more in her short life than you ever will. Stop being so critical, it's not that big of a deal man.

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