Friday, February 17, 2006

It's Not Over Until the Hotdog Wipes Out

Well, you know, I wondered about this. Last night, watching the men's snowboard-cross knock out rounds last night, I wondered if anybody ever got a little cocky on the last jump, tried to show off a little too much, and wiped out crossing the finish line. Who knew it would happen today, in the medal final, no less? American Lindsey Jacobelis was leading the final handily as she came off the last jump near the finish line. Rather than keep things neat and bring home the gold, she grabbed her board, hot dogged a little bit, and bit the snow. While she struggled to her feet, Switzerland's Tanja Frieden slid past and won gold.

Hard way to learn a lesson that I once heard Mario Andretti teach: to finish first, you must first finish. The incident reminds me of the Monaco round of the old F3000 championship from 2003. Norwegian Bjorn Wirdheim led every lap of the race from pole. After he rounded the final corner, he pulled over towards the pit wall to salute his crew (a traditional salute in road racing). Wirdheim missed exactly where the finish line was, however, and slowed down too much, thinking he had won the race. He hadn't - the finish line was further up the pit straight. As Wirdheim coasted to a stop, the second-place driver powered past him to win the most prestigious event on the F3000 calendar. Wirdheim went on to win the championship that year, but I bet he never lifts at the end of a race anymore!

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