Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States reacts after winning the small final of the women’s snowboard cross. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Lindsey Jacobellis again had a big lead and again the successful American snowboarder took a big spill, ruining her chances for the elusive gold medal at the Olympics.

Jacobellis, who was seconds away from a victory at the Turin Games when a botched trick spoiled her race, was riding strong from the very start of Sunday’s snowboard cross semifinal and breezed to a big lead. But about three-quarters of the way through the course, she lost her balance coming off a small jump and took a fall, crushing her gold medal hopes.

“There’s worse things in life than not winning. A lot worse,” said Jacobellis, who was competing in her third Winter Games. “Of course, it’s very unfortunate that this didn’t work out for me. I trained very hard for this moment. It just doesn’t come together for who knows what reason. You can take it in stride. A lot of people can say what they want, put as many opinions out there … that’s fine. It’s not really going to affect how I view myself and how I look at my past resume.”

Her American teammate Faye Gulini took third in her semifinal heat and earned a spot in the finals. Gulini was riding in sixth in the final race, but a late crash on the course allowed her to finish fourth.

The Czech Republic’s Eva Samkova took gold here at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, followed by Canada’s Dominique Maltais and France’s Chloe Trespeuch.

This marks the second straight Olympics in which Jacobellis, 28, failed to make the event’s finals. She recovered from her fall in Turin to win silver there.

“I don’t think it has to do with the Olympics,” Jacobellis said. “It’s just a fluke of when things work out for me and when they don’t. I felt very calm and composed, very excited about this event because I really like the course. It just so happened to not work out. It’s hard to accept that.”

The path to the medals podium appeared to be cleared somewhat for Jacobellis. Norway’s Helene Olafsen, the 2009 world champ, took nasty spill in her qualifying run and was unable to start in her quarterfinal heat, and Canada’s Maelle Ricker, the 2010 gold medalist, crashed in her quarterfinal heat and was unable to finish. American Jackie Hernandez also fell during qualifying and suffered a concussion that kept her from competing Sunday.

Jacobellis won Sunday’s “small final” consolation race to earn a seventh-place finish in Sochi.

“I feel like people are so ready to see her fail. That’s terrible, you know,” Gulini said. “That’s not how things should be. She’s a phenomenal snowboarder.”

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