Lindsey Jacobellis Treated Harshly by NBC for Snowboard Cross Gaff, According to Snowboard Website Owner

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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, says Snowboard Website Owner Lauren Traub Teton.

Near the conclusion of the Women’s 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 finish line, says snowboard writer Lauren Traub Teton.

NBC was quick on the trigger in their post-race feature on Lindsey, showing the prepared filmed reel of Dallas Cowboy’s Leon Lett and other sports stars making ridiculous errors in sports. Lauren Traub Teton says “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 Apolo 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.

Lauren Traub Teton says, “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 doesn’t 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.

Teton adds “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 snowboard.

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