Shaun White Wins USA's 100th Gold Medal At Winter Olympics

Shaun White Wins Usa's 100th Gold Medal At Winter Olympics

Shaun White is the most talked-about man competing at PyeongChang 2018 after he hauled in the United States’ 100th Winter Olympics gold medal with a halfpipe run that is destined to become a thing of legend.

White, 31, who has more gold medals in a single snowboarding event than any other competitor from anywhere in the world is only the second person in history to complete perhaps the most difficult of tricks off the ‘pipe, and he did it on his last run at PyeongChang. The American phenom, nicknamed the “Flying Tomato” for his bright red hair and the pioneering figure in the comparatively young sport, was looking good in his first run, taking the lead with a score of 94.25 without having attempted the nigh-impossible cab double cork 1440 maneuver. Then came the second run of 19-year-old Japanese sensation Ayumu Hirano – the same rider who just a few weeks prior at the Winter X-Games nailed that move in competition, making his own bit of snowboarding history.

Needless to say, Hirano stuck the landing on a repeat of his X-Games performance and successfully bypassed White for the lead. White, who later told reporters that believed it was going to be necessary for him to do the cab double 1440 in order to win at the Olympics, attempted to do just that on his second run, but ate the snow trying to land the trick. Though White faceplanted on the second run, he at least didn’t suffer any injuries, quite unlike his recent training woes in New Zealand, which resulted in 62 facial stitches and five days in intensive care in October of last year.

Now substantially trailing Hirano, who coasted through his third run, by just a few points going into the final trip down the halfpipe, USA online sportsbooks knew that White needed to pull off the performance of his career, and maybe the run of his life. And, seemingly effortlessly - like he had done back-to-back 1440 combinations thousands of time though he had never even tried it in practice before – White did it. Predictably, the crowd went nuts, as did White himself, even falling to his knees as his near-perfect score of 97.75 flashed on the monitor at the Alpensia snowboarding arena.

“I found myself in this position that I love," White told reporters after the historic run. "I do better when the pressure's on and I'm at the top, one run to go, the world's watching, my whole family's here, everybody's cheering for me and I put it down.”

White’s achievement was a milestone for America and Olympic history, but it was just as much a personal feat for him. After taking the extreme sports world by storm in the early 2000s, White’s long list of accomplishments, unparalleled in the snowboarding world, even included gold medal-tier successes at the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Games just a smidgen out of his teenage years. Nevertheless, White had an abysmal Sochi 2014 showing – for him anyway – in which he finished fourth, and since then has undergone personal crises ranging from the aforementioned injuries to as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of sexual harassment from a former member of the rock band he founded.

For White to claim the gold medal at what will probably be his last Olympics appearance, and especially to win in such dramatic fashion over Hirano, who may well be the inheritor of his place atop the snowboarding dogpile, makes the event all the more meaningful. White’s family and friends, and even his competitors from Japan and Australia who rounded out the medalists’ podium, were appreciably thrilled by the result. As for White, usually one of the more self-deprecating athletes in this high-profile sport, he couldn’t contain the pride he felt in his achievement, which will guarantee him a spot in the Winter Olympics pantheon.

"To win in that fashion meant the world to me,” he told the assembled members of the press. “All the hard work and injuries and the decision to come back after all that, we just did it. I don't think you could ever forget this day in snowboarding, and I'm proud I'm on top. I don't say that often about myself."

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