Less than three days after capturing an elusive individual gold, five-time U.S. Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis claimed another Saturday with teammate Nick Baumgartner in the Winter Games debut of mixed team snowboard cross. The two American veterans, 36 and 40, are the oldest medalists in Olympic snowboarding history.
In falling snow and temperatures in the teens, Baumgartner beat out Canadian Eiliot Grondin in the men's section of the big final, and Jacobellis followed up with a triumphant victory over Italy's Michela Moioli, subtly grabbing her board on the final jump in a full-circle ode to the infamous Torino moment that cost her a title nearly two decades ago.
"We came in hot today, we're really excited about it," Jacobellis said. "To be able to take this with someone I’ve been on the team with for over a decade – close to two decades now with Baum – it’s incredible to accomplish this together."
Italy's 2018 Olympic champion Michaela Moioli and partner Omar Visintin, the men's individual SBX bronze medalist, took silver; while Canada's Eliot Grondin and teammate Meryeta O'Dine, the respective men's and women's silver and bronze medalists, each earned their second medals of the Olympics with bronze.
Baumgartner was ecstatic, having suffered heartbreak Thursday with an early quarterfinal exit in the men's event despite entering as a medal contender. The oldest U.S. athlete at the 2022 Games, Baumgartner's gold earned him his first medal in four Olympic appearances.
"These tears are so much better than the ones from the other day," he said. "It’s days like that when you’re bummed out and you’re disappointed that make days like today so amazing. That’s why when you have that adversity, you can’t quit. You keep going because the good things are coming."
A native of Iron River, Michigan, Baumgartner has a 17-year-old son named Landon, and with existing plans to deliver the commencement speech at his high school graduation, now has an Olympic gold medal to bring along.
"This gold medal is awesome, but [Landon]’s still the best thing that I’ve ever done and ever will do," he said. "For him to see me fight through that adversity and do stuff right before he’s about to graduate high school and go on to figure out what he’s going to do in life, is huge."
Jacobellis relinquishes to Baumgartner the title of oldest Olympic snowboarding medalist, a designation she assumed Wednesday upon winning individual SBX gold. Austria's Benjamin Karl, also 36 but younger in days, initially took on the label Tuesday with his victory in parallel giant slalom.
Baumgartner, a two-time world medalist who missed the podium in fourth at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, had a pair of World Cup podium finishes this season at the host venue and in Montafon, Austria. Jacobellis, a five-time individual world champion, placed third in back-to-back competitions in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
"There's something about being the veterans … we’ve had so many heats under our belt that we have to ride so close to people, and in conditions like this, the draft is so important and you have to be able to stay in it until the absolute possible last second," Baumgartner said. "That doesn’t scare us because we’ve done it so many times."
Jacobellis, whose individual gold made her the oldest U.S. woman to win a medal of any color in any sport at the Winter Olympics, added to her accomplishment list Saturday as the first woman to win two snowboarding golds at a single Games. American-born Alpine rider Vic Wild of the ROC won two men's events in 2014.
"I tried to remember my old X Games days and jump as hard as I can on every jump to try to make the landing and use the draft when possible," Jacobellis said on Saturday. "I definitely am very comfortable riding very closely to other riders and then trying to execute off that speed that I gain from them."
She went 5,836 days between her Torino silver and Wednesday's individual gold. It then took three days to add another gold in the mixed team event (h/t NBC OlympicTalk's Nick Zaccardi). Meanwhile, per Gracenote, Baumgartner's the oldest U.S. Winter Olympic gold medalist since 1948, when American Frank Tyler piloted a title-winning four-man bobsled team at 43.
In the semifinals, Baumgartner got out to a great start with Visintin and crossed the finish in a virtual tie. With no advantage for either team in the women's section, Jacobellis sat comfortably behind Moioli as the two easily progressed to the big final. Italy's No. 2 team of Lorenzo Sommariva and Caterina Carpano won the other section.
Earlier in the quarterfinals, Baumgartner stuck behind Adam Lambert in the beginning before the Aussie's compatriot Cameron Bolton passed them both. Starting the latter leg in second, Jacobellis avoided two crashes from Australians Josie Baff and Belle Brockhoff to win the race and advance. Brockhoff was taken off the course by stretcher.
The No. 2 U.S. team of Jake Vedder and Faye Gulini did not make it out of the quarters, tying for ninth overall. Grondin dominated the men's section, and Vedder clipped the back of Frenchman Merlin Surget's board on the second turn and went down. He caught back up and took third. In the women's race, Gulini lost the second spot to O'Dine while the ROC won.
Italy's Visintin and Moioli claimed the first quarterfinal, which only featured three teams rather than four due to the field's odd number of 15, and Great Britain's Huw Nightingale and Charlotte Bankes took the victory in the fourth and last heat.
Mixed team snowboard cross is a relay-style event with pairs of one man and one woman competing in head-to-head heats of four. Men go first, and their results determine when the start gates open for their female teammates. The women's race then decides the overall outcome.