United States

USA Snowboarder Finds ‘Balance' In Encinitas

Lindsey Jacobellis heads to her 4th Winter Olympics in February

On a typical "chamber of commerce" Southern California morning, Lindsey Jacobellis wakes up and checks the swell.

Emails, workouts and correspondence with sponsors await, but if the waves look good, you will find her starting the day with a surfboard and a quick dip in the Pacific Ocean.

Daily life looks a lot different for the east coast girl whose heart is still entrenched on the slopes of Stratten Mountain, Vermont, where she grew up and learned to snowboard -- but now she has the best of both worlds.

Jacobellis gets paid to travel the globe and compete in Boardercross, an event resembling roller derby or BMX racing, except on a snowboard. Races are often full of tight turns and close quarters with plenty of crashes in between.

In a few weeks, Jacobellis will enter her 16th year on the world cup circuit as the veteran face of Team USA and will begin defending her number one world ranking once again. Because it's an Olympic year, the competition, pressure, and travel will be more intense, something this veteran of the sport understands and is prepared to tackle.

She credits the laid back, physically active lifestyle of a beach town as being part of the reason.

"It gives me great balance within my life and then when I go back to the snow I'm that much more excited and focused on the task at hand," said Jacobellis.

Despite all her success in the sport, Jacobellis might still be best known among casual Olympic viewers as the young snowboarder who hotdogged off a jump in the 2006 Winter Olympics and lost the gold.

Jacobellis says even today it remains the number one question in any interview.

It was her first Olympics and the first time boardercross made it into the games, and Jacobellis flew out to a huge lead in the gold medal race. At just 20 years old she instinctively showed off a flashy move on the final jump and fell. She got up and finished in time for silver, but became better known as the girl who lost the gold.

Her evolution into a more well-rounded athlete and person since Torino coincided with her move to Southern California. It may not be a coincidence.

"I think I've been more forgiving of myself moving on from mistakes I've made or losses I've had and instead of holding on to it, what I did in the past, now letting that go and using it as a tool to apply towards my next race," said Jacobellis.

An Olympic gold remains the one elusive accomplishment in her career, a career which defines the gold standard for snowboard cross.

Jacobellis says that whatever happens, it won't define her. She calls it the icing on the cake, something she wants, but not something she needs.

Win or Lose in Pyeongchang South Korea this February, Jacobellis knows her family and friends will love her the same. And when she returns to Encinitas, the surf will be waiting.

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