Nate Holland

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Nate Holland still motivated by repeated Olympic heartbreak

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At 38 years old, Nate Holland knows PyeongChang would likely be his last chance to add an Olympic medal to a trophy case already blinding with seven X Games snowboard cross gold medals.

“I’m not there to get top 10 and go check out a hockey game,” Holland said last month. “I’ve had three Olympics that I’ve done that.”

Holland entered all three Olympics since snowboard cross debuted as the reigning X Games champion. A medal contender, if not the favorite.

He washed out each time. In the quarterfinals in Torino. In the four-man final in Vancouver. In the first elimination round in Sochi.

“There’s something about these five rings that give me a lot of drive, ambition and joy,” Holland said on NBC after his 2014 disappointment, “but they do cause a lot of heartbreak.”

Some snowboarders are ambivalent about the Olympics. Not Holland.

He remembers watching the 1988 Calgary Winter Games growing up in Idaho, a decade before snowboarders were let in. After snowboard cross was added in 2003, a motivated Holland made the subsequent World Cup team and reached the podium.

Holland chalked up a 14th-place finish in Torino in 2006 to being “young and reckless.” The miss that sticks with him to this day is Vancouver 2010, when he was the only finalist not to earn a medal.

“That’s probably the No. 1 memory of racing is that feeling of failure when I got to the bottom,” he said. “Out of a four-man heat, they’re ushering me off, pushing me out of the finish corral.

“Dude, you gotta leave. What are you doing here still? We’ve got to do a podium ceremony.”

“I’m still out of breath. My heart rate’s at 180 still.”

“What’s going on? No, dude, you need to leave. Thanks for coming, goodbye.”

“Those are motivating factors in the gym when all I want to do is go home and go change some diapers,” Holland said.

Holland and wife Christen (who commissioned that trophy case as a Christmas gift) welcomed daughter Lux on Nov. 1, 2015. Lux is already riding on her own three-foot Burton board. In Uggs.

“Thank God for FaceTime,” Holland said. “I’m able to call every day when I’m in Europe and have breakfast with my daughter.”

Her dad is trying to become the oldest U.S. Olympic snowboarder in the sport’s two-decade history and the oldest medalist from any country.

“Some say I’m too old,” Holland says. “I say BS.”

Holland is realistic, though. The man who used to ride by the motto “wreck or win” has become more calculated and listens to his body. The Advil doses are more frequent. He enjoys the spa.

“I come back every year and there’s definitely some question in my mind whether I’m fast,” said Holland, whose detailed injury history included coming back from a December 2013 broken clavicle to win X Games and make the Olympic team. “Every year, I give myself a little pat on the back. I’m like, all right, I’m still in that group. I’m not sitting three seconds out.”

Holland was the fastest at the PyeongChang venue on Feb. 27, 2016, winning the Olympic test event.

He may have picked up nuances on the new Olympic course that the riders half his age have not, but Holland also hasn’t made a World Cup podium since. Snowboard cross was cut from the X Games after 2016.

If Holland can’t crack the top three at any of the four Olympic selection events in December and January, he might be left off the U.S. team.

Holland said he won’t work any harder this winter than he did in 2006, 2010 or 2014. Each time, he felt satisfied with what he put in. What he left the Olympics with — Team USA clothes, maybe some hockey ticket stubs — is what’s unfulfilling.

“You want something that you can’t have,” he said. “I don’t have an Olympic medal, and I’m really passionate about it.”

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Five U.S. Olympic hopefuls born in the 1970s

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Who will be the oldest member of the 2018 U.S. Olympic team?

Here are some candidates:

Bode Miller, Alpine Skiing, Age 39
The six-time Olympic medalist hasn’t raced since severing his right hamstring tendon in a February 2015 World Championships crash. But Miller hasn’t retired and has spoken of a possible comeback next season.

Nate Holland, Snowboard Cross, Age 38
Seven X Games titles but no Olympic medals for Holland, who has taken part in all three Olympic snowboard cross competitions and made the final once, finishing fourth in Vancouver. Holland won a World Cup at the PyeongChang Olympic venue last February.

Seth Wescott, Snowboard Cross, Age 40
The Maine native won the first two Olympic snowboard cross titles in 2006 and 2010 and then failed to qualify for Sochi. Wescott just couldn’t get back from a complete reconstruction of his left ACL in April 2013 after falling into an Alaska crevasse while shooting part of a film for ski and snowboard director Warren Miller. Wescott finished 10th in his last World Cup on Jan. 21, his best finish in nearly four years.

KC Boutiette, Speed Skating, Age 46
The pioneer of the inline invasion to speed skating came out of a nine-year international retirement in 2015 with an eye on the mass start event, which makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang. He won a World Cup race in December for the first time in 12 years. Boutiette could go 24 years between his first and last Olympic appearances.

A curler
The oldest member of the U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver and Sochi was a curler. And just last year, three members of the U.S. Nationals-winning rink were born in the 1970s — Brady ClarkGreg Persinger and Philip Tilker.

PYEONGCHANG 2018
Storylines | 18 US Stars | 18 Global Stars | Strange Olympic Hopefuls | Key events
Oldest US Olympian? | Youngest US Olympian? | Venue Photo Gallery | North Korea

Lindsey Jacobellis wins 10th X Games title in photo finish

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Lindsey Jacobellis extended her female record for X Games gold medals — Summer or Winter — with her 10th snowboard cross title on Sunday.

Jacobellis, 30, outleaned Czech Olympic champ Eva Samkova in a photo finish after passing Samkova midway down the course under falling snow.

Full results are here.

“I could hear you,” Jacobellis told Samkova, who got the hole shot out of the start, afterward in the finish area. “I was like, no, go away.”

Jacobellis is one of the greatest Olympic sports athletes of all time, yet she has not won an Olympic gold medal. In 20 career appearances in major championships snowboard cross competitions (Olympics, X Games, Worlds), she has 14 gold medals.

In the men’s race, two-time Olympic champion Seth Wescott and Sochi bronze medalist Alex Deibold were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Seven-time X Games champion Nate Holland bowed out in the semis. Full results are here.

Earlier, Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy earned his second silver of these X Games in ski slopestyle. Kenworthy also took ski halfpipe silver Thursday. Olympic champion Joss Christensen was ninth, with Olympic bronze medalist Nick Goepper 11th. Full results are here.

MORE: Estonian becomes youngest Winter X Games champ ever

Lindsey Jacobellis
20th — 2001 X Games
21st — 2002 X Games
Gold — 2003 X Games (and third in slopestyle and fourth in halfpipe)
Gold — 2004 X Games
Gold — 2005 Worlds
Gold — 2005 X Games
*** Skipped 2006 X Games
Silver — 2006 Olympics
Gold — 2007 Worlds
Silver — 2007 X Games
Gold — 2008 X Games
Gold — 2009 X Games
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