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Lindsey Jacobellis Is Proof You Have To Focus On Yourself To Succeed

Despite all the wins at a young age, X Games star Lindsey Jacobellis did not enjoy her early successes.

During a discussion at this past weekend's Winter X Games in Aspen, the snowboarding star described her prodigious talent as somewhat of a blessing and a curse. She said,

To win and win and win, that became the only acceptable thing to do when you're 17 years old, that's the level you set for yourself. So you expected that every time and that's a big emotional build-up every time you're approaching an event and most of the time I would get sick after every event.

An Olympian by the age of 17, Jacobellis says she "tortured" herself to maintain her winning ways, which in turn made her profession no fun at all.

There was no acceptable outcome but victory, and such an expectation was a heavy weight. You can imagine, then, how she must've felt during her most infamous moment.

At the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, a then-20-year-old Lindsey was body-lengths ahead of her nearest challenger, until a dramatic fall occurred.

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Lindsey explained,

I didn't even know if I absolutely loved the sport then. I was just doing it because I was phenomenal at it and leading the world at that time, and took myself out of that moment. I don't even really remember what happened. It wasn't even the last jump that I had that, like, glitch.

An even more unfortunate twist of fate, though, would change the way she looked at things.

It was bad enough an ACL injury forced her to sit out of competition in her mid 20s. What happened after was even worse.

Jacobellis was one of the few patients for whom ACL surgery is unsuccessful. That meant she had to undergo surgery a second time, keeping her away from the game for an even longer period of time.

She said,

That was just an unlucky thing that I had no control over and it just really put's things into perspective and you had to train mentally as well as physically to get back to where I was. A lot of the problem was the mental side. Am I gonna feel the same, am I gonna be fearless? Am I gonna go for it like I used to? It did all come back, but the mental approach definitely changed my whole way of coming into an event.

What changed, exactly?

Well, for starters, Jacobellis removed the "unrealistic" expectation of winning all the time from her shoulders. Most importantly, though, she's done this without sacrificing the efforts and talents that make her a great athlete.

The motto now is simple: Focus on yourself.

She continued,

That helps me mentally prepare and kind of calm my nerves a little bit and set a realistic expectation of myself and just basically trying to do what I'm doing to the best of my ability and take it one step at a time.

That change in her mentality made her happier. And from the looks of her recent record, it made her better, too.

At the age of 30, a period which she politely refers to as her "seasoned" years, Jacobellis has won three straight Snowboard Cross gold medals at the X Games, the last of which was won this past Sunday in a tight photo finish.

#XGames Snowboarder X Gold – Lindsey Jacobellis 🇺🇸 Silver – Eva Samkova 🇨🇿 Bronze – Nelly Moenne Loccoz 🇫🇷 — X Games (@XGames) January 31, 2016

If anything, Jacobellis' continued success is proof of the wisdom in her new ways. The result has been an escape from the pressures of winning. Meanwhile, the winning has stayed and it's more enjoyable. She said,

I can really only control what I'm doing... Doing the best in the moment and putting 100 percent into what you're doing is all you can ask for and at the end of the day you'll be happier with that result.
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These days, the three-time defending X Games Snowboard Cross champ is killing it, and that might not have been possible without the tricky past highlighted by the moment in Turin.

She concluded,

Who's to say how that evolved me as a person, where I am now? All these things affected how I developed mentally and physically as a person, and it's scary to think, if it went the other way, who would I be now?

No one knows the answer for sure. But it's a good thing she's still here.