Wescott, who was on hand, said indeed he does go for style — just not in the most crucial of situations.
“Sometimes it’s subconscious, but that was putting on a show,” Wescott said. “You’ve got to choose your time and make sure you don’t miss.”
Wescott is Frieden’s boyfriend and his opinion may not have been completely objective.
But he was hardly alone.
“You’re not supposed to grab your board,” Canadian bronze medalist Dominique Maltais said. “It’s not a halfpipe race, it’s just boardercross.”
And American Jayson Hale: “It’s kind of a little victory thing. And when you’ve got that much of a lead at the end, you throw in something for the crowd, for fun. It happens. Just not at the Olympics and not when you’ve got a medal in your hand.”
Jacobellis got the medal, only a different color than it probably should have been.
She didn’t feel her finish — the Lindsey Leap — reflected poorly on Americans.
“I don’t think that at all,” she said. “Just because we win a lot doesn’t mean we’re showboating.”
Maybe the oddest part of the whole day was that the key sequence came with Jacobellis all alone, not bunched up in the crowd, which is when the memorable moments are supposed to come on a snowboardcross course.
In this sport, four riders take off from the starter’s gate and go shoulder-to-shoulder through the 1,000-yard, high-banked, narrow track. Wild crashes are common.
At the beginning of the final run, there were some more traditional thrills and spills.
Canadian Maelle Ricker, the fastest woman in qualifying, came off a jump, rotated awkwardly, caught her backside edge on the landing and smacked her back and head onto the ground. She was taken off the course on a stretcher and flown to a hospital in Turin, and was later released with no major injuries.
A few moments after that wreck, Maltais lost her balance and careened into the netting after a jump.
Those wrecks made it a two-woman show, though really, it wasn’t even that.
As she approached the fateful jump, Jacobellis had a bigger lead than anyone in any heat, men’s or women’s, in two days of racing in the newest, wildest sport on the Olympic program.
All over but the shouting, they say.
“But sometimes,” Maltais said, “things like this happen in snowboardcross.”
And because of it, Jacobellis had a lot of explaining to do.
See Olympic athletes crash and tumble on snow and ice.