‘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.

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