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Shaun White Takes Gold in Men’s Halfpipe

BONGPYEONG, South Korea—

Shaun White

raised each arms, took off his helmet and tossed it into the group. He had solely simply accomplished the primary of three runs in Wednesday’s Olympic males’s snowboard halfpipe closing. But it was clear then to anybody watching: White was headed again to the rostrum.

Precisely the place on that podium White would stand was determined solely by his closing run, a masterpiece that earned him his third profession gold medal.

The 31-year-old American motion sports activities icon reclaimed his halfpipe superiority with a rating of 97.75 of a doable 100. After failing to medal in any respect in Sochi 4 years in the past, White narrowly beat silver medalist Ayumu Hirano of Japan. Scotty James of Australia received bronze.

White is the primary snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals and the primary American male to win gold at three totally different Winter Games.

Snowboarders, as soon as considered by some as form of fringe Olympians, are the engine that’s driving the American medal rely up to now. White’s medal was the seventh for the U.S. in these Olympics. Snowboarders received 5 of these, together with all 4 golds.

In an occasion in which solely every rider’s better of three runs counts, White put himself in sturdy place with a 94.25 on his first run. But Hirano surpassed him with a 95.25 on the second run and White discovered his second.

Snowboarding has been a part of the Winter Olympics since 1998, however whilst the game moved from its counterculture roots into the mainstream, it didn’t have a crossover star. White modified that.

His gold medal on the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, on the age of 19 began a run that might make him one in every of America’s most recognizable Olympians. Nicknamed “The Flying Tomato” for his previously lengthy pink locks and his airborne tips, White went on to win gold once more in Vancouver in 2010. Beyond the Olympics, White has received a document 13 gold medals on the Winter X Games.

He turned as a lot a industrial success as an athletic one. White, who doubles as an expert skateboarder, has had a company sponsor since he was 7 years outdated. His array of sponsors and entrepreneurial ventures helped make him in some methods greater than the game itself.

By the time White arrived in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympics, his success had made it harder for him to remain motivated for extra. In retrospect, White instructed reporters upon his arrival right here final week, he was burning out.

“It’s like if you’ve ever been in a relationship,” he stated, “and someone is like, they love you. I wish I could flip a switch and love you back…love snowboarding like I did when I was 7.”

After complaining in regards to the situations of the halfpipe in Sochi, White crashed on his closing run and completed fourth, a shocking letdown for the gold medal favourite. The U.S. was absent from the rostrum for the primary time since snowboarding turned an Olympic sport.

But this 12 months, White returned to the Olympics with gusto. Facing stiffer competitors from youthful rivals, he earned the best rating in qualifying on Tuesday.

“I knew I had it in me,” White stated afterward. “I watched these young guys putting in these amazing runs and it fired me up. I just wanted to show that this is what I have been doing my entire life.” He added, “I am here to put it down.”

He could also be again. White has expressed curiosity in competing in skateboarding when that sport makes its Olympic debut on the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. And he has talked about making one other run in snowboarding once more in 2022.

Write to Brian Costa at brian.costa@wsj.com

Appeared in the February 14, 2018, print version as ‘The Flying Tomato Takes Gold.’

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