Noboating

Lindsey Breaking new ground on Birdhouse: For the first time in five years I’m going to render… a sports opinion.

Watched dumbfounded with everyone else last night as Lindsey Jacobellis gave up the gold due to a stupid mistake, and then basically lied on camera about it (she first said she had grabbed her board to “stabilize” the jump). Almost immediately, Costas and the pundits pegged her backside method as “showboating” and blamed it all on overconfidence. This morning’s papers, more of the same — Jacobellis was showing off, blah blah blah. There’s another side to this.

First of all, it’s not like a backside method is any big deal of a trick. It’s a simple tail kick in the air – the kind of thing average riders do on the slopes of any mountain every day, and probably something Jacobellis has done 10,000 times in similar conditions. But for freak reasons, she landed it slightly wrong.

Second, remember that Jacobellis is the only woman rider who does both halfpipe and snowboardcross. ‘Cross offers no points for style, so the smart rider won’t attempt any. But halfpipe is all about style, and it’s likely that doing that kind of thing on a jump is just part of her groove thang.

Third, as she said to Costas, she wasn’t really thinking about it – she was just barreling down the run, having a ball. And a little method is just the kind of thing you do when you’re having fun.

Fourth, if she really wasn’t aware of how much of a lead she had, as she claimed to Costas, then she wasn’t in a position to be doing arrogant things, and the showboating argument falls apart. The tail kick could also be used to throw off neighboring riders in mid-air; it might have partially been an instinctive strategic move.

Yeah, it was a stupid thing to do. But the pundits skewering her for “showboating” aren’t seeing the whole picture, and are raking her across, I think, a few too many coals. The impression left is that it was typical American arrogance. I think it was more innocent than that: A freak bad landing of a very simple, albeit unnecessary, trick.

Photo: NBC

Music: Cassandra Wilson :: A Little Warm Death

13 Replies to “Noboating”

  1. But the pundits skewering her for “showboating” aren’t seeing the whole picture, and are raking her across, I think, a few too many coals.

    The big picture includes Seth Wescott, who won the Men’s gold in snowboard cross. He’s also a former half-piper, but had the presence of mind to remember he wasn’t competing in the half-pipe. He was racing. And because he maintained his focus, he was able to win.

    Jacobellis’ trick demonstrated her head was not in the race. What, did she need more time to prepare? Did she need a bigger opportunity?

    The trick was obviously deliberate. She chose to do it, it didn’t happen by chance. And by choosing to do it she demonstrated that her focus was not there, her head was not in the race, and she didn’t deserve the gold.

    Sitting around in your underwear and farting may be part of your “groove thang,” but at least most of us are smart enough to remember not to do it at work. And if we do, expect people to wonder WTF we were thinking (and doing).

    Snowboarding for you is a fun and laid-back activity. You can indulge your “groove thang.” But when you represent your country in the Olympics it’s serious. And Jacobellis was not serious.

  2. Point for point, a great argument, Scot, very persuasive, esp. to a nonsnowboardcrossologist such as myself. Excellent use of facts and anecdotal observations, much more convincing than speculation as to the seriousness of Jacobellis’ commitment to victory.

  3. Jacobellis’ trick demonstrated her head was not in the race.

    Exactly. Or at least not all the way in the race. She shouldn’t have done it. But at the same time, the chances of her doing it unsuccessfully were also, I think, extremely low, to the point of non-existent.

    She chose to do it, it didn’t happen by chance.

    That’s where we disagree. What I’m saying is that I don’t think it was necessarily a conscious choice — just something she does in a jump. Lack of focus? Yes. Conscious choice? Not so sure about that.

  4. But at the same time, the chances of her doing it unsuccessfully were also, I think, extremely low, to the point of non-existent.

    Obviously not non-existent. She crashed.

  5. What are the chances of your tripping and falling on a crack in the sidewalk on the way to work if you’re whistling at the same time? Not non-existent, but also small enough that you don’t hesitate to whistle.

  6. I’d hesitate if it was an international competition where I was representing my country. My brain would be focused on walking; to the exclusion of whistling, chewing gum, listening to music, or anything else other than the task at hand.

  7. Exactly. That’s why she shouldn’t have done it. I’m just trying to say it’s not as black and white as the media is making it, and that there were factors to consider. It doesn’t matter – she fell, she lost gold. But also, it matters. Know what I mean?

  8. I know what you mean. What I’m saying is that these are the Olympics. Whether showboating or just not having your head in the race, either way, you’re a pretty bad athlete. It’s just not Olympic-caliber behavior.

    And, IMO, any explanation is more excuse than it is explanation.

  9. And, IMO, any explanation is more excuse than it is explanation.

    There’s such a thing as a good excuse. When accused of a crime, the judge still asks the accused: “And what have you got to say in your defense?” And often, what is said in one’s defense greatly mitigates the crime. Yeah, you may have exceeded the speed limit, but if you did it because you would have crashed otherwise, or because you’re taking someone to the hospital, the speeding crime just isn’t the same as if you’re just plain speeding.

    Well, I’m just saying some things in Jacobellis’ defense.

  10. as someone else pointed out elsewhere, they’re called the Olympic /Games/. She was having fun. She was doing what comes natural to snowboarders having fun. If anything, it’s a pleasant antidote to “athletes” who take themselves — and their competition — too seriously.

    So. Olympic caliber behavior: Competitor enjoying her competition, or competitor forgetting that it’s really, after all, just a game?

  11. What she did goes along with the culture of her sport. She might be getting flamed by Costas and like, but she is probably going to come out big in her circles for doing what snowboarders do, which is to rebel a little, have fun, march to own beat.

  12. I think in the wake of the no-boating scandal, we’re missing out on the irony that Costas and gang would be, quite hypocritically, lauding Jacobellis as the darling of the olympic games and a veritable champion of non-conformist youth culture —- IF ONLY SHE HAD MADE THAT JUMP. I can picture it now, the commentators smarmily saying: “Wouldja lookit that!! Those crazy kids! That sort of funloving and carefree attitude is really what these games are really all about, people…..” “And now, a word from our sponsor, Vans sneakers and Valley Farms String Cheese, the mozzarella cheese for a Cheese Experience That’s TOTALLY EXTREEEEEEME. This ain’t yo daddy’s cheese.”

    Poor Lindsey. She’s made that jump in her sleep millions of times, and now she’s never live that nanosecond down.

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