Shaun White doing what he does best, exceeding all expectations under pressure, and putting down one final run to secure his gold medal at the 2018 winter games.
The mainstream media would have you believe that the men's halfpipe finals at the 2018 Winter Olympics are a battle of one. A rematch, four years in the making between one American rider and the halfpipe gold that evaded him in Sochi: Shaun White verses the PyeongChang pipe. It's a story of redemption: Shaun earned gold in Turin in 2006 and in Vancouver in 2010, but wasn't able to put a podium run together in Russia--he fell on his third and final run. But while Shaun was surely chasing a medal in today's finals in the Bogwang Phoenix Park in South Korea, his story is one layer within the four years of evolving men's halfpipe competition that has churned since the last Winter Games and was presented to the world via the whole of the twelve Olympics finals riders from the US, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and Finland in one of the wildest pipe finals contests to date. And while Shaun's story is paramount, the overarching theme is that men's pipe riding is in a very incredible place, one filled with back-to-back double corks alongside massive methods and airs-to-fakie.
In likely the heaviest men's halfpipe contest to date, the top of the podium essentially mandated back-to-back 1440s and back-to-back twelves in a single go. That is a mental concept: two double cork fourteens and two double twelves. During the third attempts, banner runs were put down by Ferguson, Burgener, and Josey--they ended fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively. Scotty James' first run would remain his best and he ended the day with a very respectable bronze medal. Ayumu Hirano tried to better his second run score and advance his lead in his third run, but washed out, leaving an opportunity for White's final push to regain the lead position. Shaun White performs under pressure, and as the world watched, Shaun dropped, blasted back-to-back 1440's and followed it up with a double McTwist to a frontside 1260. The run he needed, when he needed it. The judges tabulated their scores: 97.75 and Shaun White had won his third Olympic gold. Redemption had been achieved, Shaun had risen, once again, to the top of the podium, sharing it with two very deserving peers. The collective bar of men's pipe riding once again raised to an unprecedented level.
Shaun White throwing his hands up after his final run. PHOTO: Mark Clavin
Enormous congratulations to every rider who dropped into the PyeongChange pipe and especially to Shaun, Ayumu, and Scotty for adding to their medal collections. Nice work, gentlemen!