While you were sleeping, this U.S. athlete brought the world to tears with the ultimate redemption story

United States' Lindsey Jacobellis celebrates after winning a gold medal in the women's cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) (Lee Jin-Man, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

If anyone was awake for it, they likely were in tears at how much of a redemption story this turned out to be.

But even if you weren’t up, the highlights should be enough to bring you to tears, in a good way.

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Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States is one of the greatest snowboarders of all-time, with five world championships and eight X-Games titles, but she had been known more for a giant mess-up than all of her other accomplishments.

At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Jacobellis held a commanding lead toward the end of the snowboardcross race, which is a race where four competitors start at the same time on top of a mountain and see who can race down a series of twists and turns to the finish line first.

But on the last hill and with no competitor in sight, Jacobellis showboated the last jump, fell, and was passed by another competitor near the finish line.

Jacobellis had to settle for a silver medal and deal with a lot of embarrassment.

Still very much in her prime, Jacobellis hoped for redemption at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but crashed in a semifinal heat.

She did the same in Sochi in 2014 before finishing fourth in 2018 at the Pyeongchang Games.

Jacobellis came to the Beijing Games hoping for one last chance to redeem herself for what happened in Turin, but odds seemed against her at age 36, going up against younger competitors.

However, Jacobellis proved you can never be too old for redemption.

Jacobellis took an early lead and never relinquished it, crossing the finish line in first place to win the gold medal that was figuratively halfway down her neck 16 years ago in Italy.

In the process, Jacobellis also won the first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics for the United States and became the oldest woman athlete from the U.S. to ever win a medal of any kind at the Winter Olympics.

“It was never about redemption,” Jacobellis told olympics.com. “I didn’t have that in my mind coming here. I just wanted to have fun being in my fifth appearance at an Olympics. My thought going into this was, ‘It’s either going to happen or it’s not.’”

Well, it did, and it warmed hearts around the world.

To see how Jacobellis fell in 2006, click or tap here.

To see her gold-medal run in Beijing, click or tap here.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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