2022 Winter Olympics LIVE: USA Wins Gold in Mixed Team Snowboard Cross

Credit…Marco Bertorello/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lindsey Jacobellis had spent 16 years in search of the Olympic gold medal she squandered in 2006 when she fell just short of the finish line.

Now she has two.

The second came in mixed team snowboard cross, an event that made its Olympic debut on Saturday. The American veteran couple of Jacobellis, 36, and Nick Baumgartner, 40, have shown young athletes that they are not slowed down by age.

Jacobellis and Baumgartner, longtime friends and the two leading veterans of the sport in the United States, hugged after Jacobellis crossed the line.


N. Baumgartner / L. Jacobellis

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In snowboard cross, four riders at a time navigate an obstacle course with a series of jumps, berms and tight turns. In the team event, one man and one woman per team compete in a relay. The men go down the course first; the women follow, their departure times staggered according to the arrival times of the men.

In the final, the first woman to finish wins. In earlier rounds, two teams in each innings advance.

Jacobellis and Baumgartner cruised through their quarterfinals and semifinals on a snowy day at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China. Each navigated the tough, technical start, built momentum and stayed away from the kinds of collisions and wipeouts that end most medal dreams.

In the final, Baumgartner won the first leg, beating Italy’s Omar Visintin by 0.03 seconds. The other men also finished within a second of Baumgartner, not giving Jacobellis much cushion.

Jacobellis quickly fell to third place in a final between two Italian teams. She passed a rider on a small jump, then chased the Italian Michela Moioli on the course. Jacobellis passed her on the inside of a tight corner, held on to the lead and won by 0.2 seconds.

Visintin and Moioli won the silver medal. Canadians Eliot Grondin and Meryeta O’dine won bronze.

Faye Gulini, 29, and Jake Vedder, 23, a second American team competing in the team event, were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Jacobellis became the oldest American woman to win an Olympic medal when she won gold in women’s snowboard cross this week. His victory was a story of quiet perseverance. A premature celebration cost him a certain victory at the 2006 Olympics, when Jacobellis was 20 years old.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Although the best runner of her generation, she was haunted by her Olympic performances. In 2010, she veered off course in the semi-finals and missed the final; in 2014, she stumbles and misses the final again; and in 2018 she finished fourth.

Baumgartner is the oldest American athlete at the Beijing Games and the oldest American snowboarder in Olympic history. He was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the men’s snowboard cross on Thursday.

Baumgartner, a four-time Olympian, hopes his age-defying Olympic run “will inspire people to never give up on their dreams,” he wrote on Instagram before competing in Beijing. “You are never too old to fight for what you want!” He builds a practice track around his house every year to stay in the game.

A member of the USA team since 2005, Baumgartner finished fourth in snowboard cross at Pyeongchang in 2018. And despite his elimination from the Olympic event this week, he has mounted two World Cup podiums in the past three months. He started snowboarding at the age of 15, but it wasn’t until college that he discovered snowboard cross, an event he once described as the perfect blend of his two favorite sports: football and snowboarding.

“I am 40 years old, I lack opportunities” Baumgartner said on the verge of tears after his elimination from the quarter-finals on Thursday. “This one stings. This one hurts.

But, he said, he hadn’t finished yet.

“I’m not stopping on this, I have to do something better to finish,” he said.

He was right.

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