Shaun White Makes History In The 2018 Winter Olympics
Shaun White stood at the top of the 2018 Winter Olympics Games halfpipe Wednesday morning, needing the run of his life. This was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, full count. White was the last rider of the competition. If he failed to top the 95.25 score turned in by Ayumu Hirano of Japan, he’d earn a silver.
To this point, the 2018 Winter Olympics Games had lacked such high athletic drama, this do-or-die moment involving a big name, for its mass American audiences. White had been taking laps around the mountain on a chairlift, kibbitzing with other boarders who were training for their events. “Anything to distract from this imminent pressure-cooker situation,” he says. The wait felt like an eternity. At go-time, he high-fived his coaches, and let his mind roam free.
“I said to myself, you know you’ve got this,
“This is what you’ve done your whole life and career. Savor this moment. Because you just might win the Olympics.”
Then he did it. White grabbed the halfpipe gold medal with a blistering final run, his score of 97.75 topping Hirano. The victory makes White the first snowboarder in history to win three Olympic golds. Hirano earned silver afterwards, he expressed disappointment with the judging, and Australia’s Scotty James took bronze.
For the first time in his life, White landed back-to-back 1440s — a maneuver that requires four full aerial revolutions — to help secure the win. White had never even practiced this combo. Too dangerous. But Hirano had pulled it off in his second run, impressing the judges. White knew he needed it in order to win.
White bawled after his score flashed on the screen. “I’ve never seen him cry before,” said his father, Roger, at the bottom of the pipe. Not even when he broke a finger when he was younger, said his dad. “He was such a tough little kid.”
American officials may as well set up a medals plaza at the Phoenix Snow Park, home of the snowboarding events at these PyeongChang Olympics.
The U.S. has now won gold in four straight medals over four straight days here, making all kinds of history along the way. Red Gerard, 17,became the youngest snowboarding gold medalist on Sunday in the men’s slopestyle event. Jamie Anderson, 27, won the women’s slopestyle event Monday, joining White as the only snowboarders to win two Olympic golds (although with his win Wednesday, White now stands alone with Shaun White’s victory also secured the United States’ 100th-ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics overall, per the Associated Press’ count.