In Part 1 of this interview series with Snowboard Cross legend Lindsey Jacobellis, we covered her Gold Medal run in the Individual event at the Beijing Olympics. Here, we discuss her second Beijing Gold, in the Mixed with teammate Nick Baumgartner. At 40 years of age, this was likely Baumgartner’s last shot at standing atop the podium. The pressure was on Jacobellis to bring it home for him. Jacobellis also reveals interest in a potential book about her life – maybe even a movie. Following are edited excerpts from a longer phone conversation.
Jim Clash: You had already won Gold earlier in the Individual Snowboard Cross at Beijing, got that Olympic monkey off of your back. But then you had another final, the Mixed, with U.S. teammate Nick Baumgartner. Your thoughts before that run?
Lindsey Jacobellis: Going into that day, I felt no pressure, because I was like, “I already won [the Individual], this is just going to be a fun event.” Then, all of a sudden I thought, “Oh wait. Nick is going to want a good chance at a medal, too.” I needed to completely change my thinking and go back to how I normally operate, how I break down heats, how I focus on the task at hand. I had to get rid of the “this is just for fun” attitude.
Clash: Well, surprisingly Nick did win his final, so the pressure fell to you to get the second half of it done.
Jacobellis: Nick gave me a two-tenths-of-a-second head start. It was nice not to have to make up a big deficit. The course had completely changed, though. It had snowed and was very windy, so we couldn’t run it the way we had in heats two days prior. I didn’t get the hole-shot at the start like I did in my Individual. I was in third place, and had to hunt down the pack. I had this other energy take over because I was more used to that type of situation. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t get as many hole-shots as the younger ones do.
Clash: Well, indeed you made the passes and won Gold. What were the first words Nick said to you?
Jacobellis: When Nick came and hugged me, he was saying so much so fast, had me in a choke-hold. I think the first thing I said was, “Let me go. You’re choking me [laughs].” I think I posted one of those pictures on Instagram. It was a pretty exciting moment. He had been down there recovering from his own run and cheering me on. When you first cross the finish line, it’s so hard to breathe. You have your mouth-guard in, and it’s very dry and cold. I just needed a little bit of space. But I was so happy that I could bring it home for him. Winning the Individual did help me gain momentum for that second one, helped me believe in myself again that I’m the best all-around rider, whether I’m winning the starts or fighting through the pack, or reading individuals. We don’t always get courses on tour where you use all of your skills, because they aren’t normally as long. This one had that X-games feel, the style of course I grew up on. People who are older, like Nick and me, have an advantage over younger riders who don’t have that experience.
Clash: What opportunities are you pursuing now that you have won two Olympic Golds?
Jacobellis: Winning has helped, but it hasn’t brought the Wheaties Campaign [laughs]. We reached out, and they passed. I don’t know what other sponsors are thinking. “Is she going for another Olympics? We don’t know. She’ll be older, do we invest in that?” One thing nice is that I was approached by a book agent who really wants me to write an autobiography. I think it would be fun. I’ve also been approached to do some television shows. So we’ll see what comes about over the next six months or so.
Clash: I was thinking maybe a movie, too, because of your perseverance through five straight Olympics.
Jacobellis: That would be wonderful. But I haven’t been doing the sport to chase down money. I just love it. When I was younger, it was easier to acquire the bigger sponsors, with bigger paychecks. Me saving and investing my money has helped sustain me over the years. It’s wonderful that Paul Mitchell has been with me the entire time. JP [DeJoria] introduced himself when I was racing at just 12 years of age. Bern Helmets has been a long-time sponsor, as well.
Clash: If they did do a movie, who would you want to play you?
Jacobellis: I’m really bad with names [laughs]. With snowboarding, it’s hard. Do you pick someone who is 36, my age, or do you need a couple of different actresses because you’ll be showing a timeline. But I’d be honored to have really cool casting with some bad-ass women.