Lindsey Jacobellis, Maelle Ricker crashes highlight unpredictable nature of snowboard cross
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — In an event riddled with unexpected crash after unexpected crash, women’s snowboard cross proved to be as suspenseful as ever, with more spills from top competitors such as defending gold medalist Maelle Ricker of Canada and American Lindsey Jacobellis, who took a tumble while riding in front of the pack.
Going into the second semifinal of the event, Jacobellis was riding well and looking to be in peak form — especially when she took what may have been the longest lead of the day. Then she fell. Another missed opportunity for Jacobellis, who may have some kind of Olympic curse, as she has been the most dominant snowboard cross rider in every other event, but when it comes to the Olympics has yet to take the gold.
That is, however, what keeps this event so entertaining - how unpredictable it can be.
When asked if that unpredictable element is what keeps her hooked with the event, Jacobellis simply said no.
Embedded video_content_type: For Jacobellis, the song remains the same
“I like the moments when I have a great pass, or when I’m feeling like I’m riding really well and everything is coming together —it almost feels easy,” said Jacobellis, as composed as ever following her top finish in the small final. “Today it wasn’t feeling easy for me. Today, was maybe not supposed to be my day and it just didn’t work out for me.”
Jacobellis went on to comment on the “soupy mashed potato snow” conditions, but how that actually played a positive role in slowing the riders down on the incredibly large course.
Soupy mashed potato snow wouldn’t slow down Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic, who, following her posting of the fastest time during the seeding runs, had her traditional mustache drawn on as she won round after round on her way to a gold medal.
Embedded video_content_type: Eva Samkova wins gold in women's snowboard cross
“Because of luck,” said Samkova, who couldn’t help but shine a smile as she touted from interview to interview following the podium and flower ceremony.
Speaking to her confidence following that first run’s time, Samkova said, “it helps a lot because two days ago I was real down. Because of falling down all the time on the course it was really hard for me.”
“It’s exciting,” continued Samkova. “Speed, jumps, banks; it’s got everything.”
It was a very exciting event to watch unfold and the excitement only grew with every quarterfinal, as Samkova continued to show her dominance during the first of four heats, followed by Ricker crashing out in the next heat.
Embedded video_content_type: Ricker skids out, unable to defend title
“That’s what makes it so exciting,” said Ricker, still happy to have rode her heart out and taking her fall in stride. “You never know what to expect.”
Still in the mix for Canada was Dominique Maltais, who ultimately found podium in the form of a silver medal, keeping her country strong in the sport by the measure of results alone.
For Maltais, the change in conditions from the day before played a major role in her performance but it was not only her performance at play. Maltais had nothing but praise for the team around her as they made major adjustments with regard to the wax used to help on her board for event day.
“It’s so important. I have such a great team around me and they have been working on those boards the whole year,” said Maltais with great respect and appreciation in her voice. “Without that team… today would not have happened.”
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