Lindsey Jacobellis’ gold medal, 16 years after she stumbled to silver in Turin, and after three other Olympic disappointments, was a good enough story on its own, but now it’s even better.
Jacobellis is now a two-time gold medalist, as she and Nick Baumgartner teamed up to win the inaugural mixed snowboard cross event. Michaela Moioli, the 2018 gold medalist in the women’s race where Jacobellis finished fourth, held the lead for Italy until late in the race, when Jacobellis slipped past her for the win.
It also ended years of heartbreak for Baumgartner, in his fourth Olympics, and triumphant for the first time just after going out in the quarterfinals of the men’s event at Genting Snow Park.
The Olympics are still special and important because they’re special and important to the athletes competing. That’s why it’s so frustrating when NBC turns it into treacle. It’s already deep and emotional for everyone there, without dialing the reality TV element up to 11. That feeds back into the notion that it’s gold or bust, and yes, it’s sports, everyone wants to win, but not winning in one event that’s held every four years shouldn’t be career-defining.
Imagine a world where, after the first AFL-NFL World Championship game, those two leagues decided that they’d do it again the next year, call it the Super Bowl, and have it once every four years.
In the first Super Bowl, the Packers beat the Raiders, and the NFL continues its dominance four years later with the Cowboys beating the Dolphins. Miami then wins all of its games the next year, but there’s no Super Bowl, and nobody really cares about their AFL title. We go through the years and the Steelers, moved to the AFL to balance the leagues, beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl III. They become the Team of the 1970s four years later by beating the Rams in Super Bowl IV.
The 1980s begin with the Raiders becoming the first original AFL team to win the Super Bowl, over Washington, but it’s Washington that goes on to dominate the decade by winning Super Bowls V and VI.
In Super Bowl VII, we get a rematch of Cowboys-Steelers, and this time Dallas becomes a two-time champ. Four years later, Rams-Titans is a classic, and in Super Bowl IX, a young upstart named Tom Brady stages a competent last-minute drive to set up Adam Vinatieri’s field goal.
Brady and the Patriots go undefeated through 2007, matching the 1972 Dolphins, and with a chance to be the first perfect Super Bowl champions. But it’s not to be thanks to Eli Manning and the Giants, who repeat as champions four years later, cementing Manning’s status among the greats of all time.
Peyton Manning finally gets his own ring in Super Bowl XII, and with Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City winning two years ago, it’s clear that the new generation of quarterbacks has arrived.
The Bengals and Rams play Sunday in what should be a delightful exhibition of football leading into the Dr. Dre-Snoop Dogg-Mary J. Blige-Kendrick Lamar-Eminem concert.