Shaun White is looking for his third gold medal in the men’s halfpipe competition, which will take place later tonight. White is the one to beat, as he posted the highest score in Monday’s qualifying run with an impressive 98.5, based on the strength of landing back to back 1260s.
If White is able to medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, it will be the first time he’s taken home an Olympic medal in eight years. Although he competed in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, White was unable to reach the podium.
Just before the Opening Ceremony in Sochi, White decided to drop out of the men’s slopestyle competition. He felt that the course was too dangerous and he didn’t want to risk injuring himself, according to NBC. White knew that he wanted to focus solely on his signature event: the halfpipe. If he could have brought home the gold medal, he would have been “the first U.S. man to win gold in the same event at three consecutive Winter Olympics.”
White’s Sochi run started much like his run in PyeongChang. He finished the qualifying round with the highest score — a 95.75 — and was the favorite to win gold going into the final. What happened next was something that no one could have predicted.
“He fell twice in his first run, played it safe in his second, and finished off the podium in fourth place,” NBC reports.
It’s something that hasn’t really left White’s mind — and he says that he will never get over it.
“People ask, ‘When are you going to get over it?’ You know, the loss or whatever. You don’t, you don’t really ever get over it,” White told NBC earlier this month. “It’s kind of like you have a scar from falling off a bike, it’s just with you forever. But you learn from it. So it’s a part of me now, which is great. As hard as it was, I’m thankful that it happened because it taught me a lot,” he added.
White hasn’t stopped snowboarding despite that upset. If anything, he has become more focused over the years. But despite that new-found focus, White faced other obstacles on his comeback trail.
In October 2017, a nasty fall threatened his trip to South Korea. In the course of attempting a double cork 1440 during a training session in New Zealand, White’s board contacted the top of the halfpipe and folded in on him. His head made contact as well, spraying the snow red with blood flowing from his facial lacerations. White needed dozens of stitches, 62 in total, to close the wounds he received in the crash, including gashes from his forehead to his mouth, with his upper lip sustaining the most damage. You can watch a video of his crash here.
White’s performance in the 2018 Olympics offers him the ultimate chance for redemption.
“I feel great. It’s been such an amazing journey to get through qualifying and finally earn my spot, and then to be here’s just unreal,” White told ABC’s Amy Robach after Monday’s qualifying run.
- White won gold in the halfpipe event in Turin in 2006 and again in Vancouver in 2010.