No slip-ups as snowboarder wins first US gold of Beijing Games
Lindsey Jacobellis won the United States' first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics Marco BERTORELLO AFP

Snowboard cross rider Lindsey Jacobellis said her infamous fall that cost her a title in 2006 had "kept her hungry" as she won the United States' first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday.

Jacobellis was comfortably in the lead in the final at the 2006 Turin Olympics when she attempted to 'style out' her last jump -- and fell just before the finish line, finishing second.

The 36-year-old avoided that problem on Wednesday, leading from the front and crossing the finish line with a big smile on her face.

"(People) can keep talking about (2006) all they want because it really shaped me into the individual that I am and kept me hungry and really helped me keep fighting in the sport," she said.

Jacobellis has won six world championship golds, but she had never won gold at the Olympics before, not even making the finals at the Vancouver and Sochi Games.

It is unusual for the United States to have to wait for the fifth full competition day of a Winter Olympics to claim a gold.

With Jacobellis' gold, the Americans sit 10th in the medal table, behind Slovenia but ahead of France and Canada.

When asked if the title gold meant redemption for her, Jacobellis said she had never thought of it that way.

"I think if I had tried to spend (time on) the thought of redemption, then it's taking away focus on the task at hand, and that's not why I race."

At 36, Jacobellis is the oldest American woman to win a medal at the Winter Olympics -- this is her fifth Games.

In fact, she said had she won gold in Turin she might not have still been competing now.

"I wasn't really having fun with it," she said of her experience in 2006.

"There was so much pressure on me to be the golden girl. I'd won so many races going into it and it's a lot for a young athlete to have on their plate.

"This feels incredible because this level that all the women are riding at is a lot higher than it was 16 years ago," she said.

© 2022 AFP