USA’s Shaun White earns historic gold with high-flying, high-risk tricks

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Four months after he endured 62 stitches in his face, Shaun White landed the kind of high-flying, thrill-inducing runs that allowed him to transcend his sport and earn Team USA’s historic 100th Winter Olympic gold medal Wednesday afternoon at Phoenix Freestyle Park.

The iconic snowboarder even included the trick that nearly ended his pursuit of a third Olympic gold.

“Oh, man, that was awful and amazing at the same time,” the 31-year-old four-time Olympian said after a short awards ceremony in front of a raucous crowd. “I knew I did a great ride, and I was proud of that, and I could walk away with my head high. But when they announced my score, and I’d won, it crippled me.”

Unlike his second gold medal run in Vancouver when he knew he’d earned the win before his final run, White had to endure one of the closest finishes in Olympic snowboard history. He waved to the crowd as he paced, and then when his score (97.75) flashed on the scoreboard, he threw his snowboard and then went briefly to his knees before the 31-year-old known as the Flying Tomato began to sob.

“I was so overwhelmed with happiness, I’ve been through so much to get here,” White said. “I had this crazy injury in New Zealand where I busted my face open. I actually did the same trick that injured me here in the halfpipe today, so there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. And now it’s all worth it.”

White led after the first run, but then Japan’s Ayumu Hirano laid down the best run of the day on his second try, earning 95.25 points, just one point higher than White’s first run score.

White fell on his second run, and then, after every other competitor had gone, and Hirano’s second run score still stood as the gold standard, he did what’s made him famous.

His gold medal run included back-to-back 1440s, his trademark Skyhook and the trick that earned him gold in Vancouver, the McTwist 1260, and ended with a front-side 1200.

His reaction as he landed that third run revealed relief and elation, but then he had to wait for the judges to decide if it was better than Hirano’s run. White knew his run was good, maybe the best he could offer, but he didn’t know if it was good enough for the gold he desperately wanted.

“Honestly, it’s one …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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