The NBC cameras and commentators, true to the US-centric coverage, were following Jacobellis from the start when she was second out of the gate, through her chance to grab the lead over a Canadian competitor, to her impressive lead toward the last quarter or so of the run. Coming off the last jump, she twisted her legs, grabbing the board in the air in a move called a "Method Air." She landed off-balance as a result and fell, losing her lead. It was pure celebratory grandstanding, and it cost her a medal she would have easily taken otherwise. At first, it wasn't clear why she had fallen, but the instant replay slo-mo showed clearly the mid-air maneuver. The commentators were itching to ask her about it. It was a horribly embarrassing moment, and it showed in Jacobellis's stunned face once the race was over. The commentator asked her about it, and Lindsey tried to say she was just grabbing her board to stabilize it, but the commentator wouldn't let go and asked her about how that Method Air worked for her. (As bryduck dryly commented, "We need this reporter to go after Bush.")
I can only say that this is a telling example of why I am currently often embarrassed by my nationality. Even if Lindsey had held onto her balance and her lead, such showboating is just poor sportsmanship. I'm sorry it happened, and particularly in snowboarding, because I had just been saying how much I like the US snowboard athletes. They seem, as a group, like a really cool, down-to-earth bunch of people, "just happy to be here at the Olympics," and I watched with an eagle eye how naturally they all seemed to congratulate one another, regardless of nationality and who placed where, after each event. (I was really impressed at how happily US snowboarder Seth Wescott hugged and congratulated the competitor who took the lead away from him in the final qualifying run. Of course, Wescott ended up winning the gold medal, but he didn't show off or get all "in your face" about it. He and the male and female half-pipe snowboard gold medalists, all American, have all been pretty at ease, excited but not overly cocky about winning the gold, at least when reporters and cameras are around to capture it. Then comes Lindsey Jacobellis (pronounced "Jacob-Ellis;" I don't know why someone didn't force a hyphen on that family!).
Seems to me that's a big problem with the US. America doesn't play nice with others. In our global political actions (glo-po cross?), she has trained hard, but once she took the lead she hasn't let any of the other players forget it. She has made moves full of hubris and often wrong-headedness due to a lack of real empathy or understanding of her competitor's mindset or skills, and just continues blithely on until something happens to stun her into "Huh? What?" After which she refuses to face facts and fix the problem.
It's obviously not a perfect metaphor, and poor "Unlucky Lindsey" (as she was dubbed on the NBC Olympics site) shouldn't carry the weight of my shame at American political hubris on her narrow, disappointed shoulders. But she could have waited another fraction of a second to celebrate her "win."