‘The Flying Tomato’ reclaims gold
White rises to the occasion, big time
With jumps of absurd amplitude, Shaun White cemented his place as the coolest cat in the snowboarding kingdom.
Standing atop a glassy chute of ice, needing a score of more than 95.25 points out of 100 to seize his third Olympic halfpipe gold, the Californian produced a run of gravity-warping audacity to leave fans, judges and even rivals breathless.
After a minute that felt like an eon, the verdict was in: 97.75. To use the lexicon of this sport, he sent it to the moon.
White’s dominance at 31 was as crushing as it had been at 19 at Turin 2006, where his transcendent career took wing. What White did on the 2018 stage distilled the essence of sporting greatness.
Just when it looked as if Japan’s Ayumu Hirano had stolen his thunder with unprecedented four full revolutions, White emulated the feat with his final flourish.
Faced with a task at which most would falter, White felt only a preternatural calm.
“I looked down at the pipe and said to myself, ‘You know you’ve got this. It’s what you’ve done your whole life. Savour this moment, because you might just win the Olympics.’”
After concocting the run of his life, White crumpling tearfully into the arms of his mother, Cathy.
“It means so much to me,” he said. “To find the love and passion for my sport again.”
White is such a force of nature that the sport he has made his own can struggle to contain him. For years, he has been bombarded by offers of film roles, and he continues to play guitar for the electronic rock band, Bad Things.
Next month, he is orchestrating the Air + Style -Festival in Los Angeles, pairing a snowboard competition with a plethora of live bands.
There was even some talk that The Flying Tomato ( White’s nickname for his bright red hair) could be persuaded to return to skateboarding, the sport where he originally showed his acrobatic brilliance when it makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
“The motivation will be there,” White said. “It is something new. Less gear, more competitors.”
Shaun White is already parlaying his success on the snowboard to other ventures.