Lindsey Jacobellis wins fifth snowboard cross world title


Make it five world titles for Lindsey Jacobellis, who extended her dominance in snowboard cross outside of the Olympics on Sunday.

Jacobellis, 31, led nearly from start to finish of both her semifinal and final in Sierra Nevada, Spain, edging Olympic bronze medalist Chloe Trespeuch of France for gold. Italy’s Michela Moioli, the 2016 World Cup season champion, took bronze.

Jacobellis and Trespeuch exchanged words in the finish area after spending most of the final within a board of each other.

“I’m defending myself,” Jacobellis told Trespeuch. “You’re running into me. Sorry Chloe, but you’re trying to push me off, and I’m holding myself. You’re going to come into me like that.”

Jacobellis’ biggest rival, Czech Olympic champion Eva Samkova, went off course in her semifinal after posting the fastest time in qualifying last week.

Jacobellis has competed at worlds five times and won gold each time. No other snowboarder or freestyle skier has won a world title in a single event more than three times.

“Every year, it gets harder and harder because the level with women keeps increasing,” Jacobellis said. “I want to be remembered as someone who is supporting that next, younger generation as well as continuing to raise the bar.”

Jacobellis is one of the greatest Olympic sports athletes of all time, yet she has not won an Olympic gold medal. In 21 career appearances in major championships snowboard cross competitions (Olympics, X Games, Worlds), she has 15 gold medals.

Jacobellis infamously lost gold on a celebratory board grab on the penultimate jump at the 2006 Torino Olympics, settling for silver. She then washed out in the semifinals in both 2010 and 2014.

The PyeongChang Olympics will bring another round of expectations, and one more opportunity to claim that elusive gold. It may be her last chance, but Jacobellis refused to put a timeline on the rest of her career.

“Still just taking one week at a time, one month at a time, just living the dream,” she said. “I don’t like to look too far in the future because you’re missing what’s going on right now. I’ve made that mistake before in the past, where you’re too worried about what’s coming, and you’re not seeing what’s right in front of you.”

In the men’s event Sunday, France’s Pierre Vaultier took gold to follow up his Olympic title. The top American was Nick Baumgartner in fourth.

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NBC Olympics researcher Rachel Thompson contributed to this report from Sierra Nevada.

Lindsey Jacobellis
20th — 2001 X Games
21st — 2002 X Games
Gold — 2003 X Games
Gold — 2004 X Games
Gold — 2005 Worlds
Gold — 2005 X Games
*** Skipped 2006 X Games
Silver — 2006 Olympics
Silver — 2007 X Games
Gold — 2007 Worlds
Gold — 2008 X Games
Gold — 2009 X Games
*** Skipped 2009 Worlds
Gold — 2010 X Games
Fifth — 2010 Olympics
Gold — 2011 Worlds
Gold — 2011 X Games
*** Tore ACL/meniscus in 2012 X Games training run
Gold — 2014 X Games
Seventh — 2014 Olympics
Gold — 2015 Worlds
Gold — 2015 X Games
Gold — 2016 X Games
Gold — 2017 Worlds

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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