Two years ago in London, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was fast enough to celebrate before the finish line and still cruise to victory. That’s not a skill all Olympians possess.
Premature celebration almost cost Norwegian cross-country skier Emil Hegle Svendsen the gold medal Tuesday in the 15-kilometer mass start at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Svendsen had a sizable lead over France’s Martin Fourcade as the two headed down the home stretch, but it apparently was not as sizable as he thought. Svendsen let off the gas and extended his arms to the sky just before the finish line, allowing Fourcade to make one final push and come this close to stealing gold at the very end.
Svendsen’s fortune was better than that of American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who lost a gold medal at the 2006 Turin Olympics under similar circumstances. Jacobellis tried a bit of showboating on the final jump of the women’s snowboardcross event, fell and had to settle for silver. She hasn’t medaled since.
Click the photo below to watch Svendsen’s lucky break, with a hat tip to For The Win.