Lindsey Jacobellis wins Team USA’s first gold in fifth Winter Olympics

Winter Olympics: Lindsey Jacobellis won gold in women's snowboard cross to claim Team USA's first gold medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics
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Lindsey Jacobellis won gold in women’s snowboard cross – also known as ‘boardercross’ – to claim Team USA’s first gold medal of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

With the win, the 36-year-old Jacobellis becomes the oldest American woman to win a medal of any color – in any sport – at the Winter Olympics. She is also the oldest snowboarding medalist of any gender, according to Olympedia.org. Beijing also marks a record-tying fifth Olympic appearance for the Connecticut native.

“Don’t count the old girl out,” Jacobellis said.

“Racing with these girls definitely keeps me young, and they just keep getting younger.”

Video of Lindsey Jacobellis winning gold in women’s snowboard cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics: 

After posting the fifth-fastest time in qualifying, Jacobellis nearly saw her Olympics come to an end in her first heat of the day.

“I completely blew the start and I had to go on the hunt,” Jacobellis said. “It helped bring my momentum back to start doing well on the starts again.”

Just to reach the final, she had to defeat a stacked semifinal field that included reigning Olympic gold medalist Michela Moioli of Italy.

Once that was out of the way, “I actually felt like I was already a winner that I just made it into finals,” she said. “It’s been a long road for myself, ups and downs, injuries.”

That’s an understatement.

During her two-decade international career, Jacobellis developed into one of the most dominant snowboarders of all-time, in any discipline. She won 10 X Games titles before snowboard cross was nixed from the competition in 2016, plus five individual world titles (the last one came in 2017).

“I’m really happy that I’ve been now shaping this sport for women over the last two decades,” Jacobellis said. “That’s a pretty rare thing and it’s an honor to have been representing the U.S. team for that amount of time as well.”

But Jacobellis has had less success on the Olympic stage, with her only medal until now (a silver) coming at the 2006 Torino Games when she infamously lost her lead in the final after going for a celebratory board grab.

“I definitely have put 2006 obviously in the past and have done a lot of soul-searching to realize that (what happened in 2006) doesn’t define me as an athlete, as an individual,” she said after winning gold in Beijing.

“I can be upset with, you know, how I rode in that moment, but sometimes the opportunities or variables that are placed in front of me, I have no control over.”

RELATED: Snowboarder who beat Jacobellis in 2006: ‘I’m so happy for her’

One of the differences between Jacobellis’ first four Olympic appearances and Beijing is that – for the first time in her career – she did not enter the Games as the favorite for gold.

While Jacobellis had remained competitive in recent years, her last World Cup win came in 2019 and she finished off the podium in the individual snowboard cross event at both the 2019 (fifth) and 2021 World Championships (ninth).

An elbow injury and surgery in November 2021 caused her to miss several qualifying events in the lead-up to Beijing. She ultimately qualified after recording back-to-back podium finishes at a January 2022 World Cup stop.

France’s Chloe Trespeuch claimed the silver, while Canada’s Meryeta Odine earned bronze.

MORE WINTER OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Chloe Kim taking nothing for granted at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC