The Haunting of Lindsey Jacobellis

She has been trying to overcome This kind of since — not for herself, definitely, because she has moved on, quite spectacularly, if people would certainly just pay attention more often than every four years. What she was trying to overcome was something ghostlier, something harder to catch along with Discharge, which is actually the nagging feeling which when huge numbers of people think of Lindsey Jacobellis, they see a blooper, not a champion.

She knew the questions were coming because she faced them in 2010, when she fell short again, along with in 2014, when This kind of happened a third time. Certainly, her reward for remaining atop her sport as the 2018 Winter Games approached was to be asked them all again.

The biggest difference This kind of time, besides the experience along with wisdom which come with four more years, is actually which Jacobellis has Shull. Their pairing was the idea of Peter Foley, the longtime United States snowboard cross head coach.

“She’s had a bad experience with the Olympics, along with in a lot of ways she dreads the Olympics right now,” Foley said. “This kind of would certainly be nice if she could feel better about This kind of.”

Shull’s purpose is actually to see if a brand-new mind-set can make the difference between gold along with disappointment. along with as much as This kind of frustrates Jacobellis to be reminded of This kind of all, internally she has embraced Shull’s unusual advice: Do not try to put 2006 out of your mind, because which is actually impossible. Even within the starting gate, even in a gold medal race, if the thoughts creep to the memory of a long-ago fall, not the gauzy vision of the medal stand, seize them.

“What you want athletes to do is actually say, ‘I’m afraid,’ ” Shull said. “Because they all are. along with if they say This kind of, they can use This kind of. If they try to set This kind of aside, This kind of’s lurking around them, interrupting what they normally know how to do.”

This kind of is actually the opposite of what many sports psychologists along with coaches preach, which is actually to clear the mind along with think only positive thoughts. To Shull, to pretend which negativity does not exist is actually as ridiculous as children holding hands over their ears along with shouting “nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh” to avoid hearing what is actually being said.

The results have been promising. Jacobellis, a 10-time gold medalist in boardercross at the X Games (which discontinued the event in 2017), won her fifth world championship last March along with the first two World Cup events This kind of season. She has reasserted herself as the favorite heading into the Olympics.

“Hopefully these are all smaller positive steps, moving forward, which could potentially have things line up for me right just for This kind of one,” Jacobellis said.


Denise Shull, a mental skills coach via brand-new York, has been helping Jacobellis prepare for the Games along with the inevitable questions about her notorious fall. Her background is actually in coaching Wall Street traders along with fund managers to harness along with use emotion.

Karsten Moran for The brand-new York Times

‘I Want You Screaming’

Jacobellis along with Shull mostly talk via distant time zones. They have met in person only a few times. They may be the odd couple of the Olympics.

Shull hails via the financial world, having made a living as a trader along with trading desk manager. however a deep interest in psychology (her master’s thesis at the University of Chicago was on the neurobiology of Freud’s Repetition Compulsion Theory) had her thinking about mind games on Wall Street, where the general rule is actually to take emotion out of decision producing.

She began coaching traders along with fund managers about harnessing along with using emotion, leading to the book “Market Mind Games,” the founding of a consulting agency called the ReThink Group along with appearances on business-related networks like CNBC.

Clients, she said, told her which her unusual views on confronting emotion, not ignoring This kind of, helped with out-of-work diversions, too, like golf. A trading desk manager in Asia, Shull said, raced cars as a hobby, along with one particularly fear-inducing turn on a racetrack consistently ruined his time.

“I said, ‘O.K., as you go into which turn, I want you screaming in which car which you are terrified,’ ” Shull said. “What do you think happened? Fastest time ever. Coaches might have a heart attack if they heard a racer say which — literally, ‘I’m terrified, I’m terrified, I’m terrified.’ however the chances which they win have gone way up. which contracts the energy in a way This kind of becomes fuel. This kind of focuses the energy.”

A colleague had a connection to the U.S. Ski along with Snowboard Association, along with Shull espoused her theories to coaches at a meeting in 2016. Afterward, she was approached by Foley. I think I have a client for you, he said: Lindsey Jacobellis.

“I didn’t know her,” Shull said. “So I Googled her.”


Jacobellis, pictured celebrating a World Cup snowboard cross victory in 2004, has reasserted herself as a favorite heading into these Olympics.

Agence Zoom, via Getty Images

She learned which Jacobellis grew up in Connecticut along with, as a teenager, was an up-along with-coming racer within the burgeoning sport of boardercross, where a pack of riders leaves the gate at once along with navigates a high-speed roller coaster of a course, racing to the bottom amid the occasional carnage of collisions along with crash landings.

Her rise was timed perfectly. She was 20 when snowboard cross, as the Olympics called This kind of, made its Olympic debut in 2006. Jacobellis was anointed, predictably, as a made-for-television sweetheart in a must-see brand-new event, a favorite with cascading ringlets of blond hair along having a smile which masked her competitive muscle.

Then, in a moment, she became better known for falling than she would certainly have for winning, the butt of jokes along with even the target of animosity. She never definitely understood This kind of. She tried to smile This kind of away, however strangers seemed more bothered by the fall than she did. Wherever she went, the episode along with the questions — How? Why? — followed her like a plume of snow.

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, were considered a chance at redemption, however Jacobellis swerved off course in a semifinal heat along with missed the final. In 2014, in Sochi, Russia, she was leading a semifinal heat when she stumbled on a set of late-race rollers along with missed the final again.

“I don’t think This kind of has to do with the Olympics,” she said which day in Russia. “This kind of’s just on a fluke of when things work out for me along with when they don’t.”

Her longtime teammate Faye Gulini was more exacting.

“People don’t understand how much pressure is actually put on her,” she said four years ago. “This kind of breaks my heart because I think This kind of takes the fun out of This kind of for her. Just This kind of event. She loves the sport. She’s a phenomenal snowboarder. however This kind of’s in her head.”

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