Sport Shaun White wins gold medal in men's halfpipe, the 100th gold for US in Winter Games history

07:23  14 february  2018
07:23  14 february  2018 Source:   Associated Press

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Rachel Axon | USA TODAY Sports. PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Shaun White is golden again. It was the 100 th gold medal for Team USA in Winter Games history and the fourth for snowboarders at these Games , following wins by Chloe Kim, Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson.

Feb. 13 (UPI) — Shaun White delivered Team USA ’s 100 th gold medal in Winter Games history Wednesday on his final run in the men ’ s snowboarding halfpipe final.

Shaun White of the U.S. reacts while competing in the men's halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. © Issei Kato Shaun White of the U.S. reacts while competing in the men's halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) -- The pressure was real. So were the tears -- of joy, relief, redemption.

This is why Shaun White keeps going. This is why the snowboarding superstar keeps coming back to the Olympics, a journey that's seen him evolve from teenage phenom to global brand to living legend. One with a perpetual target on his back and impossible expectations to meet.

Standing atop the halfpipe on a gray Wednesday morning at slushy Phoenix Snow Park with his hopes for a third gold down to one final shot. White never wavered.

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Shaun White took home his third gold medal in the Olympic halfpipe , winning the 2018 halfpipe in an epic finish. To make the moment even more iconic, it’ s the 100 th gold medal won by an American in the modern Winter Olympics. History made!

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Shaun White ’ s halfpipe snowboarding gold medal was the U . S .’ s 100 th Winter Games medal ; it is actually the U . S .’ s 100 th Winter Games gold medal .

"I honestly knew I had it," White said. "I knew I had to put it down."

The stakes left him little choice. Rising star and heir apparent Ayumu Hirano had snatched the lead out of White's hand during the men's halfpipe final, throwing a spectacular epic second run to vault into the lead and put a portion of White's Olympic legacy at risk.

Not that it mattered.

VIDEO: WATCH SHAUN WHITE'S GOLD MEDAL RUN

One deep breath, a half-dozen near flawless tricks -- including back-to-back 1440s, a trick he never landed in competition before these finals -- and one seemingly interminable wait later White's return to the top of his sport was complete.

When his score of 97.75 flashed, more than two points clear of Hirano and almost six clear of Australian bronze medalist Scotty James, it all seemed worth it. The long road back from disappointment in Sochi four years ago. The painful recovery from a crash in New Zealand last fall that required emergency surgery. The notion the man who for so long served as a pioneer had been surpassed by the next generation.

Shaun White just fine with upping ante on Olympic halfpipe

  Shaun White just fine with upping ante on Olympic halfpipe Shaun White sat on the couch at home and watched history's best halfpipe contest unfold. He's planning on making the next contest — the one where they hand out the Olympic gold medal — an even better show.White said Thursday that he is working on the tricks that Japan's Ayumu Hirano used to win the Winter X Games last month. Hirano became the first person to string together back-to-back 1440-degree jumps in what was widely regarded as the best show ever seen in a halfpipe."I'm excited to compete with him," White said. "He's really pushing it, and he did an amazing combination that I'm working on myself.

JEONGSEON, South Korea (AP) — American Shaun White wins gold medal in men ' s halfpipe ; it's the 100 th medal for US in Winter Games history . Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Shaun White wins gold medal in men ’ s halfpipe ; it’s the 100 th Winter Games gold medal for the U . S . February 13, 2018, 9:01 pm.

Not quite yet.

"He wears the weight of the country and the world on his shoulders for this," said J.J. Thomas, White's longtime coach. "This is our Super Bowl. But bigger because it's only once every four years and he stresses out."

Funny, it didn't show as he became the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Olympics. Speedskater Bonnie Blair won gold in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Games. The gold was also the 100th overall gold for the United States in the Winter Games.

"What can I say? I won the Olympics," White said. "Three gold medals. I was just hoping they'd give it to me. I was pretty sure I put it down but it took a little while. Just trying not to make eye contact with the judges."

James, White and Hirano traded electric runs during qualifying on Tuesday, "sending it" in snowboarding terms and sending a bit of a message in the process. The three have eyed this showdown on the world stage for months and Hirano -- who edged James in the X Games last month, an event White opted to skip after locking down a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team -- shrugged when asked if he was concerned about the 98.50 White put up on Tuesday to earn the right to go last in the finals.

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Shaun White wins men ' s halfpipe for third career Olympic gold medal . The gold medal is the 100 th overall gold for the United States in the Winter Olympics, and White is the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Games .

Shaun White won a gold in snowboard halfpipe for USA ’s 100 th Winter Olympic gold . HE WINS GOLD on his final run in men ' s snowboard halfpipe !

"I know what he does and he knows what I do," Ayumu said.

Namely, put on a show.

White put together a dazzling first run, throwing a 1440 early on and building from there. He tossed his helmet toward the crowd when he finished and celebrated in the waiting area while the judges deliberated. His score of 94.25 was tops after the first of the three finals runs, but Hirano recovered after sitting down during his first trip to put White on notice during the second.

The 19-year-old uncorked back-to-back 1440s of his own and when the crowd exploded as his 95.25 flashed, he simply shrugged his shoulders, unfazed by the stakes.

Hirano missed an opportunity to go even higher when he washed out on his final run. James put together an unspectacular last set, setting the stage for White. He called the opportunity to go last his "good luck spot." And with good reason. He went last during his gold medal runs in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.

Yet White had the top of the podium locked up during his last sprint down the pipe on both occasions. This moment required something more. And he delivered.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Shaun White put together an epic final run to claim his third gold medal in Olympic men ’ s halfpipe , slicing through the gray South Korean sky on Wednesday to post a score of 97.75 for the 100 th overall gold by the United States in the Winter Games .

Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States celebrates during the Snowboard Men ’ s Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

While the culture of snowboarding occasionally finds itself at odds with the competitive nature of the sport -- James openly questioned the judging before the games and even said he's "not huge on perfect scores" -- White embraces it. His gold in Turin as a mop-topped 19-year-old helped launch him into a global brand. His repeat performance in Vancouver four years later, one he finished by stomping a "Double McTwist 1260" with gold already in hand, cemented his status as arguably the greatest ever in his sport.

This time around, it felt different.

White finished a disappointing fourth in Sochi, a loss that led him to do more than a fair amount of soul searching in the aftermath. His life became more complex as he tried to juggle his snowboarding career and the endless business opportunities it provided.

Injuries started to pile up. He arrived in South Korea with stitches in his mouth from that spill in New Zealand that still hadn't fully dissolved.

In the interim, the sport that he defined went on without him. White found himself no longer inventing tricks so much as trying to master the pioneering acrobatics of others, including Hirano.

Labeled as snowboarding's next big thing at 13, the 5-foot-2 Hirano is a twisting, flipping, boundary-pushing whirl hardly afraid at taking on his idol.

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White ’ s win is the 100 th gold medal of all time for Team USA in the winter Olympic Games . He is also the only snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals . White had a fierce competitor in Japan’ s Ayumu Hirano.

Shaun White wins USA ' s 100 th gold medal in Winter Games history . Australia' s Scott James was in third place with a score of 92. By the time the decorated trio were set to hit the halfpipe , it was determined that they would be guaranteed a spot on the podium.

Just not ready, at least this time, to take him down.

Related slideshow: 2018 Winter Olympics slideshow Provided by photo services) 


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