The Better Story

February 17, 2010

Leading up to the Women’s Snowboard Cross final in the Olympics yesterday, all the talk on NBC was about Lindsey Jacobellis and her redemption arc. Telegenic young U.S. athlete making up for the boneheaded hotdog move that caused her to fall and throw away a certain gold in the final in the Torino games four years ago.

But there was a better story right in front of them. A more heartwarming story. Vancouver-area native Maelle Ricker had been in that same final four years ago. And unlike Jacobellis, Ricker didn’t walk away from the hill with egg on her face. Maelle was airlifted off the hill after a scary crash the product of trying too hard to win.

When I finally heard that story last night (belatedly told in midcompetition by NBC talking heads looking for some redemptive quality for the final once their golden girl choice had failed again), I had no trouble cheering for the Canadian snowboarder to take the gold she won with an aggressive but controlled ride.

While Jacobellis post competition was trying to sell herself as having learned a lesson because at least she didn’t just quit in the consolation heat like she normally would (why, how noble of you angelic one!), Ricker was celebrating a home field hard fought victory.

Maybe by the time Jacobellis finds her way to the other side of 30 she’ll have figured out what it means not to take the competition for granted.