The Haunting Of Lindsey Jacobellis | Can a sports “mental coach” help overcome the most famous bail in snowboard history?
Olympic snowboarding is upon us and the mainstream stories are piling up. Remember Lindsey Jacobellis? Of course you do. She owns the most famous snowboard bail in history. Back in 2006 she fell doing a small method just meters before a certain gold medal. Ugh the agony. Oh she also made a really questionable music video after that. Falling is forgivable, this music video though???
Now the Olympics cause her quite the anxiety. No surprise. Can a sports “mental coach” help athletes overcome previous shortcomings and perform on gameday? Our beloved NY Times examines.
“Wouldn’t it just be nice if the media didn’t harangue me for something that happened 12 years ago?” she said. “I’m sure we can go into everyone’s past 12 years ago and pick out something that they coulda, shoulda, woulda done. It’s just mine was on a world stage that people have a hard time forgetting, or they just think that’s the only thing that’s happened or that it defined me as an athlete.”
The day before, as she had done a time or two most weeks for most of a year, the 32-year-old Jacobellis spent an hour on FaceTime talking with Denise Shull, her mental coach — a “performance architect,” in Shull’s words. They spoke about how to handle the coming onslaught of uncomfortable questions from reporters bent on dredging up past failings — especially that one notorious fall — as if all of life can be reduced to a single, recycled story line.
Working with a mental coach, or a psychologist, or a performance architect, is nothing new in sports. But two things made this pairing more interesting than most.