It didn't take long for Lindsey Jacobellis to build an untouchable lead on her way to a Snowboarder X four-peat Saturday. Five seconds into a six-woman final, after Jacobellis grabbed the holeshot, Canadian Dominique Maltais wiped out, forcing the rest of the field to swerve around her.
And just like that, Jacobellis was gone. Her lead grew to nearly 100 yards a third of the way down the course; she even had time to scrub her speed in the name of caution. The field slowly narrowed the gap, but she still cruised to her seventh gold medal in nine years.
"I didn't even see [Maltais] go down," said Jacobellis, 25. "Once I got to the top of the butter box, I looked back and was kind of shocked that no one was behind me. That's why I threw that little speed check in there, because those rollers got really deep. So I tried to play it a little cautious going into those last bank turns. And then everything was nice on the way home."
Native Alaskan Callan Chythlook-Sifsof took silver, her first medal in five Winter X appearances. When she crossed the finish line she threw her arms in the air as if she'd won, a tribute to Jacobellis' dominance. Deborah Anthonioz of France, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, claimed bronze.
Asked if winning X Games gold ever gets mundane, Jacobellis replied: "No, because it's always different, it's still hard, and I still have butterflies no matter what kind of race I'm in. I put a lot of expectations on myself, and I think that's where most of the stress comes from."
Continuity has been key to Jacobellis' success. Instead of staying in a house with the rest of the U.S. Snowboard Team, she and her dad get their own place and cook most of their meals at home. Her board tech and coaches have remained the same, as well.
"We make a pretty solid family," she said.