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X Games: Jacobellis runs away with win

ASPEN, Colo. – Lindsey Jacobellis not only landed her second consecutive X Games gold in Saturday’s snowboardcross, but she utterly ran away with it, crossing the finish line in every heat with nobody remotely close to her.

“It always feels good to win, but I felt really confident on this course,” the 23-year-old said. “I was having a lot of fun riding it, even though it was very difficult because we were having trouble making some of the landings because of all the new snow. Toward the end, when it started to rain, it made the course a little faster and some of the jumps easier.”

Indeed, Mother Nature threw her own confetti on the cross racing, forcing the ladies to wipe their goggles and strain for speed throughout the day.ASPEN, Colo. – Lindsey Jacobellis not only landed her second consecutive X Games gold in Saturday’s snowboardcross, but she utterly ran away with it, crossing the finish line in every heat with nobody remotely close to her.

“It always feels good to win, but I felt really confident on this course,” the 23-year-old said. “I was having a lot of fun riding it, even though it was very difficult because we were having trouble making some of the landings because of all the new snow. Toward the end, when it started to rain, it made the course a little faster and some of the jumps easier.”

Indeed, Mother Nature threw her own confetti on the cross racing, forcing the ladies to wipe their goggles and strain for speed throughout the day.

Rolling into town days after winning the world championships, Norway’s Helen Olafsen finished second to Jacobellis and Swiss rider Sandra Frei, who won a World Cup cross race in Austria two weeks ago, took the bronze.

Traditionally in cross racing, those first out of the gate tend to hold their lead until the finish. In Jacobellis’ case, she trails for the first couple of rollers, then turns her jet pack on. Saturday’s race was no exception.

“I was definitely not first out of the gate; these ladies were way ahead of me,” she said, eyeing Olafsen and Frei. “I always have trouble getting that pull out of the gate. I just tried to match the landings as well as I could, just get into that tuck and hope it worked out. And it did.”

When asked how they thought Jacobellis was able to pull so far ahead of the entire field, Olafsen and Frei were at a loss.

“I don’t know,” Olafsen said. “I’d like to know.”

Jacobellis, on the other hand, didn’t realize she had created such a gap.

“I thought they were right behind me,” she said. “There’s so much stuff going on. Everything is really loud. Since it’s a flatter course, you could hear people land. It echoes. They could be right behind you or far away. You can’t really tell the difference. I thought everyone was right on me, so I kept going as fast as I could.”

During both of Jacobellis’ giant leads in the semis and the finals Saturday, the announcer repeatedly said that “the only person who can stop Jacobellis is Jacobellis.”

Although this is her fourth gold at the X Games and she was the 2007 world champion and won the highly touted Jeep King of the Mountain series, Jacobellis’ performance at the 2006 Olympics is one that some feel has earned her the reputation of being unpredictable. For those who don’t remember, she was, as usual when she’s winning, far ahead of the pack in the final run at the Torino Games, but pulled a stylish grab off the final kicker, which caused her to fall just before the finish line. She thus sacrificed the Olympic gold for silver. In the X Games the following year, though she didn’t attempt a trick, she took a similar spill and lost the win again.

After Saturday’s X victory, she said one of the biggest challenges of the sport is to just  tune out what people are saying and do her best.

“I really just ignore it,” she said. “I make mistakes. I’ve been racing for so many years, those mistakes are bound to happen. Things happen all the time that you don’t have control over. I just figure, stay on my feet. Do the best I can. I focus on what i can control and just ignore all the other stuff.”

When asked if she’ll ever attempt another grab while winning a boardercross race, she said, “you’ll just have to keep watching.”

Though she skipped the world championships to prepare for the X Games, Jacobellis said she approaches every competition with the same attitude.

“I treat every race the same becaue it helps me mentally prepare for bigger races such as this or the Olympics,” she said. “It’s just trying to exercise your mind to get the stress out of it. It’s still a work in progress, but that would be the ultimate goal. This game is 50 percent mental. Mentally, you can knock yourself down or pull yourself up.”

Saturday’s gold is the sixth X Games medal for Jacobellis, who, in addition to her four golds and one silver in boardercross, also took bronze in X slopestyle in 2003.

X Games snowboardcross women’s final results:   
                  
1.         Lindsey Jacobellis                  Stratton, Vt.                                          110.619
2.         Helene Olafsen                         Oppegard, Norway                                113.266
3.         Sandra Frei                                Flims-Dorf, Switzerland                          113.505
4.         Maelle Ricker                             Whistler, B.C., Canada                           113.776
5.         Olivia Nobs                       La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland            113.999
6.         Joanie Anderson                    South Lake Tahoe, Calif.                        115.739

Consolation:

7.         Mellie Francon                     La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland            112.693
8.         Simona Meiler                          Flims, Switzerland                                 114.375
9.         Erin Simmons                      Steamboat Springs, Colo.                     120.052
10.        Faye Gulini                               Vail, Colo.                                             127.372
11.        Zoe Gillings                         Isle of Man, Great Britain                       130.000
12.        Tara Dakides                             Mammoth Lakes, Calif.                          130.000

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