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Samkova streaks to gold in women’s snowboardcross

AP Photo
AP Photo/Andy Wong

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic dominated women’s snowboardcross on Sunday, posting three wire-to-wire victories on her way to Olympic gold.

The 20-year-old Samkova was easily the fastest in qualifying and never trailed in the elimination rounds, her board pulling her well clear of the madness behind her.

Dominique Maltais of Canada earned her second Olympic medal by grabbing silver. Chloe Trespeuch of France earned bronze.

Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. failed to make it to the medal round. She was leading in her semifinal race when she crashed near the end of the slushy course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Jacobellis recovered to win the consolation final.

It marked the third straight disappointing Olympic finish for the eight-time X Games winner. Jacobellis had gold in her hand in Turin in 2006 only to fall while attempting a fancy grab with a big lead in the final. She recovered for silver.

Four years ago in Vancouver, Jacobellis was in the semifinals when she washed out early in her run.

Even if Jacobellis managed to remain upright, it would have been hard for her to catch Samkova, who wore a camera on her helmet to capture the action. The footage proved to be pretty boring.

At no point during snowboarding’s version of NASCAR did she appear to be in any trouble. She was the fastest in qualifying by nearly a full second over Jacobellis and appeared only to get faster as the day wore on.

The flag of her home country painted just above her lip, Samkova gave one quick peek back to the field in the finals. No worries, Maltais was well behind. Samkova thrust her arms into the air after crossing the finish line then started a giddy celebration. She threw her board toward the flower stand before receiving hugs from her fellow competitors.

Considering the way she was riding, gold was out of the question for everyone else. Maltais, who won bronze in Turin, bookended it with a solid second-place run while Trespeuch held off Faye Gulini of the U.S. for bronze.

On the same slope where Russian skicross racer Maria Komissarova sustained a severe spinal injury on Saturday, the unforgiving course took out its fair share of competitors.

Jackie Hernandez of the U.S. sustained a concussion after smacking her head into the snow during qualifying. She was treated and released but was unable to compete in the elimination rounds.

Helene Olafsen of Norway hurt her knee during qualifying and needed to be taken off the mountain on a stretcher.

There were a series of typical falls once the riders found themselves riding six-across. Defending Olympic champion Maelle Ricker went down in the quarterfinals trying to make an aggressive pass in a turn. One round later, Jacobellis’ version of Groundhog Day continued.

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