Lindsey Jacobellis Treated Harshly by NBC for
Snowboard Cross Gaff
Snowboard culture and Olympic culture are at odds.
NBC treated Lindsey Jacobellis too harshly when she grabbed her snowboard
Instead of the gold medal at the Olympics Snowboard cross Finals.
by Lauren Traub Teton
19, 2006 --Near the conclusion of the Womenıs Snowboard cross Final, one of
the most exciting races of this Olympics with an unprecedented three second
lead over her nearest competitor, Lindsey Jacobellis grabbed her board with
her hand while flying over the penultimate jump. Exhibiting major style, she
pushed her board slightly forward in the air in a "backside method air."
Unfortunately she landed badly, on her edge instead of flat on the bottom of
the board, and lost her balance tumbling down onto the snow and losing her
first place Gold medal finish.
Lindsey cried on the podium as she received her Silver Olympic Medal. She
cried from frustration and embarrassment, but is ready to move past this
mistake. However NBC sports commentator Bob Costas who interviewed her was
relentless in grilling her about whether she was "showboating" with her
backside method grab, when she should have been focused on getting over the
NBC was quick on the trigger in their post-race feature on Lindsey, showing
the prepared filmed reel of Dallas Cowboyıs Leon Lett and other sports stars
making ridiculous errors in sports. They had that reel ready to roll, and
Lindsey Jacobellis was the unfortunate and inappropriate target for them to
flaunt their "emergency preparedness." But Lindsey remained as poised
and composed as possible and showed the true spirit of a sportsman and a
champ during the difficult interview.
She made an honest mistake, like so many other athletes did in this
Olympics, including Bode Miller and Apollo Anton Ohno. She is a world
Champion snowboard cross rider and the first American rider to win
boardercross and halfpipe competitions at the same World Cup in 2004. It was
out of line, sensational, and disrespectful for the NBC commentators to deem
her "self-congratulatory" and "counting her chickens before they hatched."
Snowboard culture is different than that of other Olympic sports. Terje
Haakonsen, one of the greatest snowboarders in the world doesnıt believe
that snowboarding should be an Olympic sport, for that very reason. Most
snowboard events are not cutthroat competitions like other Olympic sports.
Snowboarders will always say "we do it for the fun" just as Lindsey did when
asked about her grab in the race.
The Olympic Snowboarders are not even referred to as 'a team' by their
governing body, although skiers are. Before major snowboard events, riders
are surprisingly relaxed in the starting area before competing. Many of them
improvise their routines in the halfpipe to adapt to ever changing surface
conditions, unlike in most of the other winter Olympic events. Lindsey, as a
champion halfpipe rider, improvised her grab in the race, and landed wrong.
Snowboard cross Olympic Gold winner Seth Wescott said, "the trick she tried
is second nature to us. The people who criticize, don't understand the sport
at all." Todd Richards said from the announcers booth that if he were in
Lindsey's boots and had a chance to do "the most stylish trick in
snowboarding" he would have probably gone for it too.
Yes, she may lose mega-bucks in potential endorsement dollars. Yes, perhaps
she made a bad decision in the split second she had to decide which hand to
grab her board with and what kind of move to pull to stabilize herself in
the air. The good news is that she won a Silver Olympic medal, and will
become a household name as a snowboard hero. Jacobellis said "I think it's
silly for athletes to look at a sport to get better deals and endorsements,"
Jacobellis said. "They should do it because they enjoy and love it."
Seth Westcott added: "The aesthetic of the sport, the style aspect, is what
draws all of us into it. It's in many ways an artistic expression. The
freestyle aspect of it is where the soul of the sport lies. It would have
been a shame if she didn't go for it."
Lauren Traub Teton is editor
and creator of five snowboard websites to serve the snowboard community. She
is a snowboard writer and commentator, a member of NASJA and she loves to