U.S. grabs gold in Olympic debut of mixed team snowboard cross

Two veteran US snowboarders brought home the first-ever gold in mixed team snowboard cross in the event’s Olympic debut Saturday in Beijing.

The win gave Nick Baumgartner, 40, his first medal in four Olympic appearances and Lindsey Jacobellis, 36, her second gold in Beijing.

Jacobellis swept the women’s snowboardcross event Wednesday, breaking Team USA’s gold medal drought of these Games.

The Italian team of Omar Visintin and Michela Moioli nabbed silver, and Canada’s Eliot Grondin and Meryeta Odine claimed bronze, edging out the second Italian team.

The second US team of Jake Vedder and Faye Gulini did not advance past the quarterfinals.

“This has been really incredible, I was really happy my body was feeling great,” Jacobellis said after the race. “All the pain is worth it.”

The mixed team event takes a relay format. Four men go first, and determine their results when their female teammate’s start gates go down.

In the final Saturday, Baumgartner made a pass in the air and shot to the top spot that he kept until the finish. Jacobellis, in third, managed to pick off the second-place racer. She went neck and neck with Moioli, but came out ahead.

“You’re so unbelievable. Way to ride, that was beautiful,” an elated Baumgartner, of Michigan, told Jacobellis, of California.

Jacobellis and Baumgartner are individual champions in the sport and have both made previous trips to the Olympics, but the Beijing Games have been their best showing.

At the 2006 Torino Winter Games, Jacobellis had a commanding lead, but did a board grab trick on the penultimate jump and fell. She managed to take home silver, but would not medal in an Olympics for another 16 years.

Jacobellis came in fifth in 2010 in Vancouver, seventh in 2014 at Sochi, and fourth in 2018 at PyeongChang, but the gold remained elusive.

In a nod Saturday to the mishap that cost her the gold in Torino, Jacobellis grabbed her board on the final jump as she glided across the finish into first.

In 2018, Baumgartner came in fourth in men’s boardercross but didn’t break out of the top 20 in the 2010 or 2014 games.

He missed out on a medal in men’s snowboard cross Thursday after failing to advance from the quarterfinals. In a post-race interview, Baumgartner was emotional.

“I put so much time and effort and then one little mistake and it’s gone,” Baumgartner said. “I’m 40 years old, I mean I’m running out of chances.”

“I’ve got to do something better to end with,” he added.

After Saturday’s race, Baumgartner said knowing Jacobellis was at the gate after him helped him ride his best.

“It’s days like two days ago that make today feel so good,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much pressure’s off you when you’ve got someone like Lindsey in the gate after you.”

He added that he wanted to show everyone what he was worth after the quarterfinals.

“I wanted to prove to everyone what I wanted to prove two days ago,” he said. “Us ’80s babies, we’re out here looking younger than everybody.”

Baumgartner is a two-time world medalist with two World Cup podium finishes this season. Jacobellis is a five-time champion in individual snowboard cross at the world championships and 10-time X Games champion.

With the team win, she relinquishes the title of oldest Olympic snowboarding medalist to Baumgartner.

NBC Olympics contributed.

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