Olympic-Sized Flub For US Snowboarder

American Lindsey Jacobellis who was leading in the final of the Women's Snowboard Cross competition, crashes in sight of the finish at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Bardonecchia, Italy, Friday, Feb. 17, 2006. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau
The debut of snowboard cross in the Olympics will be remembered for a very long time. The men's final was a gripping thriller. The women's final Friday was simply bizarre.

Lindsey Jacobellis seemed to have a lock on the Olympic women's snowboard cross gold medal, which would have given the United States a gold sweep in snowboarding, and then ¿ incredibly ¿ she made one last move on the penultimate jump and fell.

Coasting to what should have been an easy victory, the American grabbed her board on the way to the finish line. It caused her to fall and, while she scrambled to her feet, Switzerland's Tanja Frieden sped past and became the first champion in the strange and wild sport of Olympic women's snowboard cross.

Jacobellis won silver, but should have had the gold. She was well ahead of Frieden, and the other two women in the four-rider final had fallen long before.

Snowboarding is about style, though, so Jacobellis decided to show off for the fans in front of the grandstand near the end of her ride. But after she landed from her grab, she caught an edge, then went tumbling outside the blue line. When she recovered, she trailed Frieden over the finish line, then put her hands on her knees and held her palms up.

Jacobellis insisted she wasn't showing off.

"When you grab in boarder cross you're trying to get back on the ground as fast as possible," she said. "You try to be stable in the air."

Before the race her proud family was hoping she had the gold in the bag, CBS' Manuel Gallegus reports.

U.S. coach Peter Foley fell onto the ground in disbelief.

He said Jacobellis has always had a tendency to grab her board for stability, but after looking at a frame-by-frame breakdown of the jump shot by Associated Press photos, he conceded Jacobellis probably had gone over the top.

"She definitely styled that a little too hard," he said.

Foley wasn't alone in thinking Jacobellis may have been showing off.

"Sometimes it's subconscious, but that was putting on a show," said American Seth Wescott, the men's champion from the day before. "It's one of those things. I did it in my early rides yesterday but you've got to choose your time and make sure you don't miss."

Despite winning the men's gold in snowboard cross Thursday, the United States fell to fourth in medal rankings, behind Norway, Russia and Germany.

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In related developments:
  • Also Friday, Russian figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko did something he never did Thursday in the men's long program ¿ he crashed. Plushenko was involved in a minor car crash in thick fog on his way to Milan airport. Ari Zakarian, Plushenko's agent, said no one was hurt. His gold Thursday night helped restore some Russian pride after the country became embroiled in the first doping scandal at the Turin Olympics.
  • For the first time since international competition in women's hockey began in 1990, the U.S. and Canada won't meet in the championship match. On Friday, Kim Martin made 37 saves and stopped all four American attempts in a shootout, while Maria Rooth had two regulation scores and the clinching shootout goal in Sweden's 3-2 victory in the semifinals. Canada, which faced Finland in the late semifinal, and the U.S. had never lost to anybody except each other since international play began in 1990. The Americans won the sport's inaugural gold medal in Nagano, and Canada won in Salt Lake City.
  • The NHL will review several factors ¿ including the risk of injury ¿ before deciding if it will commit to sending players to the Olympics past the 2010 Games in Vancouver. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday that the length of the break needed to accommodate the Olympics will also be considered. The NHL agreed to shut down for these Olympics and Vancouver as part of the labor agreement reached with the players union last summer.
  • Figure skater Michelle Kwan, whose quest for Olympic gold ended because of a groin injury, has signed on with The Walt Disney Co. as a celebrity spokeswoman, the entertainment conglomerate said Thursday. Kwan, 25, will be featured in ads and other media promoting Disney's businesses. She'll also appear in the media company's original programming, the company said. Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.
  • Emily Hughes isn't wasting any time getting familiar with her surroundings at the Olympics in Turin, Italy. The last-minute replacement for Michelle Kwan arrived in Turin yesterday with her father and coach, and was spotted at the men's final a few hours later. She'll have her first practice today, and hold a news conference.
  • Plushenko's flawless free skate gave him the Olympic title hours after Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva was stripped of a silver and kicked out of the games for testing positive for a banned stimulant. Russian officials claimed Pyleva was the unwitting victim of an error by a doctor who gave her an over-the-counter medication that contained the banned stimulant carphedon, but didn't list it on the package. "It's a shocking situation," Pyleva told Russian TV, "because I've always been against using banned medications."