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Jacobellis redemption gives US first gold after Shiffrin nightmare

Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States celebrates on the podium. -- Reuters
Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States celebrates on the podium. -- Reuters

Beijing: Lindsey Jacobellis, a 36-year-old snowboarder who in 2006 gave away an overwhelming lead when she slipped and skidded on a showboating last jump, finally clinched Olympic gold on Wednesday.

One of the most decorated female athletes in her sport, Jacobellis had failed to win Olympic gold in three Games since that fateful day in Turin.

On Wednesday, her Olympic redemption in the snowboard cross gave Team USA their first gold medal of the Beijing Games.

Earlier, a nightmare slalom run for skiing great Mikaela Shiffrin had cast a shadow over the American team, who came into the Beijing Olympics second only to Alpine powerhouse Norway for winter golds.

Shiffrin, who won slalom gold in Sochi and has dominated skiing technical events, choked back tears as she questioned whether she could pick herself up and return to competition.

"I've never been in this position before and I don't know how to handle it," she told reporters.

Petra Vlhova went on to win Slovakia's first Olympic Alpine skiing gold in the slalom without Shiffrin.

Norway and Sweden sat atop the medal table on Wednesday with four golds each. The Netherlands, China and Germany were closely behind. The US were in 10th spot with seven medals in total.


It was a mixed bag for the Stars and Stripes across Beijing's Olympic venues on Wednesday, continuing an early Games trend.

Freeski Big Air hopeful Alex Hall, the only skier to have successfully performed a double cork 2160, a whopping six full rotations, in competition coming into the Games, failed to complete his signature trick and finished eighth.

His team mate Colby Stevenson rebounded from a crash in his first jump to win silver behind Norway's Birk Ruud.

Speed skaters Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia, both ranked high in the World Cup and tipped for medals, finished out of podium contention.

U.S. figure skater Vincent Zhou was forced to withdraw from the men's short programme after testing positive for COVID-19.

Ryan Cochran-Siegel won a surprise silver in the super-G and Jessie Diggins medalled for the second Olympics in a row by picking up a bronze in the women's cross-country sprint race on Tuesday, with Rosie Brennan coming fourth.

Back home, there have been signs of waning American interest in the Winter Games.

NBC's coverage of the Beijing opening ceremony averaged close to 14 million U.S. television viewers, about half the TV audience for the last Winter Games opening ceremony four years ago.

Declining overall TV audiences and an almost opposite time zone, which means very few events are scheduled for local prime time, have contributed.


Viewers who stay up late in the US for Thursday's competition in Beijing could be treated to a golden blitz with several favourite athletes in focus.

Figure skater Nathan Chen, who stunned Japan's ice prince Yuzuru Hanyu in the short programme with a world record performance, is within striking distance of gold in the men's singles.

Chloe Kim, who at 17 became the youngest woman to win a snowboarding gold at Pyeongchang 2018, qualified first in the halfpipe. Japanese teen Mitsuki Ono was second on her Olympic debut.

Kim, now 21, took nearly two years off the mountain to focus on her studies and her mental health after she suffered burnout in the wake of her last Olympics. -- Reuters

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