WHITE WINS 3RD WINTER OLYMPICS GOLD
HIS WINNING RUN WAS THE BEST IN TERMS OF SHOWMANSHIP, GUTS
PYEONGCHANG: Snowboarding at the Olympics turned 20 this year, and there’s a good chance that in another two decades, people will still be talking about the contest that went down in the mountains of South Korea on Wednesday.
They will definitely still be talking about Shaun White.
It wasn’t so much that White won his third gold to place his name among the greatest to compete in the Olympics, or in any realm of sports, for that matter. It was the way he did it. His winning run capped a contest that, even before he dropped in for the finale, was the best, in terms of pure difficulty, showmanship and guts that has ever been seen on a halfpipe.
It came with the heart-thumping pressure of knowing he had to land the most difficult run he ever attempted, or settle for silver.
It included back-to-back jumps, each with 1440 degrees of spin, that are, quite literally, death-defying. They were tricks White said afterwards that he had never landed in succession — not in practice and, of course, never in a contest.
“I knew I had it in me,” he said. “The fear was out of the door. I’m at the Olympics. I had to do it. I’m standing at the top, in my favourite position, with the pressure of the world and one run to go. Man, it brings out the best in me. I’m so glad that’s a part of me as a competitor.”
On the winning trip, White got the tough stuff out of the way early, dropping straight into the halfpipe, flying nearly 20 feet above it and whipping his body around twice while going headover-heels two times for the first 1440. He landed high enough on the wall to gather sufficient speed to travel to the other side and essentially do a mirror image of the first trick.
From there, it was simply a matter of staying upright.
He performed what’s known as the Sky Hook — a 20-foot vault above the deck in which he bent himself into the shape of a comma, while grabbing the board and tweaking it up toward his backside to show judges the style they demand. His final trick was one he patented: the Double McTwist 1260, in which he took off from the wall for two flips with 1 ½ twists, grabbing the board and practically wrestling it over his head to complete the jump and stick the landing.
He knew he’d done it, but the wait — about 120 seconds — was agonizing. “I was trying not to make eye-contact with the judges,” White said.
▪ Shaun White of the United States celebrates after the halfpipe finals in Pyeongchang on Wednesday.