It would be nice to say that the other 11 riders in Saturday afternoon's SnowboarderX Women's competition pushed the now-five time gold medalist. It would be great to report of tension through the final turn. Except it would be more fictional than a James Frey autobiography. In her semifinal run, Jacobellis was about four seconds ahead of the field. In the final, she led after the first turn, and again won by seconds: light years in boardercross terms.
It's not that she can't be beaten, but for Jacobellis in Aspen, it's become a "Tiger vs. the field" type deal. "The World Cup courses are just a totally different kind of riding," says Maelle Ricker, who finished fourth on Saturday and has had as much success against Jacobellis internationally as anyone. "Here, she really has an advantage. She has all the skills and all the tricks in her bag."
On a run with rollers, jumps big and small, flat and steep sections, tight turns and wider spaces, the full range of Jacobellis' skill is on display, and it's pretty clear her background in all mountain and pipe riding puts her well ahead of the field.
"I think it's the course. It's very big, and it's technical because it's big, and there are a lot of features we just don't encounter on the World Cup tour," she said after the win of the reason for her success. "If the course isn't that difficult then we're all together because we're all excellent riders and there's no feature that would separate us."
My sportsmanship free translation, not hers: "When the course is hard I'm better than everyone else." Can't say I disagree, especially in tough, slow conditions like the women had today, when any bobbles prove unusually costly.
Short of moving the X Games overseas or slipping the maitre d' a sawbuck to build a separate, FISesque course for the boarders, it could be a while before the field as a group catches up with Jacobellis.
"She's just got crazy amounts of natural talent. There's only so much that the masses can have of that," says Graham Watanabe, who won silver on the men's side. "A lot of these girls they have natural talent and then they work extra hard. But there's only so much you can do in a gym- you have to make do with what you've got."