PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Four months after he persevered 62 stitches in his face, Shaun White landed the type of high-flying, thrill-inducing runs that allowed him to go beyond his game and earn Team USA’s historic 100th Winter Olympic gold medal Wednesday afternoon at Phoenix Freestyle Park.
The iconic snowboarder even integrated the trick that almost ended his pursuit of a 3rd Olympic gold.
“Oh, man, that was awful and amazing at the same time,” the 31-year-old four-time Olympian mentioned after a brief awards rite in entrance of a raucous crowd. “I knew I did a great ride, and I was proud of that, and I could walk away with my head high. But when they announced my score, and I’d won, it crippled me.”
Unlike his 2nd gold medal run in Vancouver when he knew he’d earned the win earlier than his ultimate run, White needed to bear some of the closest finishes in Olympic snowboard historical past. He waved to the group as he paced, after which when his ranking (97.75) flashed at the scoreboard, he threw his snowboard after which went in brief to his knees earlier than the 31-year-old referred to as the Flying Tomato started to sob.
“I was so overwhelmed with happiness, I’ve been through so much to get here,” White mentioned. “I had this crazy injury in New Zealand where I busted my face open. I actually did the same trick that injured me here in the halfpipe today, so there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. And now it’s all worth it.”
White led after the primary run, however then Japan’s Ayumu Hirano laid down the most efficient run of the day on his 2nd take a look at, incomes 95.25 issues, only one level upper than White’s first run ranking.
White fell on his 2nd run, after which, after each different competitor had long gone, and Hirano’s 2nd run ranking nonetheless stood because the gold same old, he did what’s made him well-known.
His gold medal run integrated back-to-back 1440s, his trademark Skyhook and the trick that earned him gold in Vancouver, the McTwist 1260, and ended with a front-side 1200.
His response as he landed that 3rd run published reduction and elation, however then he needed to watch for the judges to come to a decision if it was once higher than Hirano’s run. White knew his run was once excellent, possibly the most efficient he may be offering, however he didn’t know if it was once excellent sufficient for the gold he desperately sought after.
“Honestly, it’s one of the most challenging runs I’ve ever done,” he mentioned. “I didn’t even link the combination, the (back-to-back 1400s) until I got here today. This morning. So honestly, I’m just so happy with my performance. I’m proud of the other riders for pushing me this whole time.”
Hirano’s 95.25-point run earned him silver, whilst Australia’s Scotty James completed with bronze, incomes 92 issues on his first run.
Earning a 3rd Olympic championship could be a exceptional feat for any athlete, however believe that 4 months in the past, White lay in a medical institution mattress in New Zealand with 62 stitches in his face after a coaching coincidence wherein his face slammed into the lip of the halfpipe.
Two months previous he’d crashed in coaching and suffered a bruised liver and hip.
“I just have to thank my team,” he mentioned of the psychological toughness it took to get well from the wounds. “They were always there to support me and reassure me that what we’re doing is on the right track, and they believed in me. That really helped me. They were all here for me today. They’re all beside themselves. I’m still shaking. I don’t know what’s happening.”
But it gave the impression not anything would deter the four-time Olympian, who adopted back-to-back gold medals in Torino and Vancouver with a fourth-place end in Sochi.
He spent a while within the end house thanking the individuals who helped him get his get started within the game.
“It’s amazing,” he mentioned, “my family have been so supportive of me this entire time, from the get-go. In the beginning, driving to the mountains, calling in sick to work, getting me to where I needed to be, and now we’re here.”
White’s 3 gold medals put him 2nd in Winter Olympic good fortune through a U.S. male athlete to lengthy monitor speedskater Eric Heiden, who has 5 Olympic gold medals.
“Man, three gold medals,” he mentioned, “my fourth Olympics. Thank you. I’m feeling blessed.”
White is the primary snowboarder to win 3 Olympic gold medals, and he makes it a blank sweep of skiing gold for the U.S. with a number of occasions nonetheless to return.
USOC officers issued a observation after White’s historic gold, which got here at the 5th day of pageant in Pyeongchang.
“Each and every one of the 100 times we have heard our national anthem play in Olympic Winter Games competition has been a truly unique and special moment,” mentioned USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “These medals have spanned nearly 100 years and showcase the dedication to excellence that is central to Team USA and the entire U.S. Olympic family. Today the USOC joins our athletes, national governing bodies, sponsors, donors and American fans in celebrating yet another incredible performance that rightfully earns a place in Team USA and Olympic history.”