KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Faye Gulini, a graduate of the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, narrowly missed an Olympic medal Sunday, finishing fourth in snowboardcross.
The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumna benefited from a crash between Bulgarian Alexandra Jekova and Italian Michela Moioli to move up to fourth in the six-racer finals field at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
“Fourth place in the Olympics, I will take it,” said Gulini, 21, who is from Salt Lake City, Utah. “It would have been nice to get on the podium. It’s hard being so close. Obviously I wouldn’t like to do worse, but it feels like a 12th or something would have been like, ‘Eh, I blew it,’ but to be fourth, it’s kind of tough. But I’m happy overall.”
This is Gulini’s second Olympics. She finished 12th in Vancouver.
Her teammate Lindsey Jacobellis was leading in her semifinals race but fell on a section of rollers as she approached the finish line.
Gulini was quick to defend Jacobellis, a medal favorite here who infamously fell as she attempted a grab while approaching the finish line in the lead in Vancouver in 2010, settling for silver.
“People don’t understand how much pressure is put on her,” Gulini said. “It breaks my heart because I think it takes the fun out of it for her, just for this event. She loves the sport, she’s a phenomenal snowboarder, but it’s in her head.”
Eva Samkova, of the Czech Republic won gold; Dominique Maltais, of Canada, got the silver, adding to the bronze she won eight years ago; and Chloe Trespeuch, of France, took bronze.
Several bad crashes occurred throughout the day. U.S. rider Jackie Hernandez slammed her head after a fall in qualifiers, suffering a concussion. Norwegian Helen Olafson also fell in qualifiers, hurting her knee.
“Toughest course we’ve been on all season,” Gulini said. “It’s built really well, so if you give the course speed, it’s going to run and you’re going to be OK, but I think for a lot of girls it was mental — it was these big jumps that we were staring at.”