End of an Era: Shaun White Finishes Fourth In Final Competition

Shaun White

On Thursday night in the states (morning in Beijing), Shaun White competed in his final competitive snowboarding event. The greatest snowboarder of all time announced before the 2022 Beijing Olympics that it would be his final competition. It’s the end of an era, as the longtime X Games star and three-time gold medalist began his career at age 13 at the 2000 X Games. The now 35-year-old competed in his first Olympics in the 2006 Torino Games, in which he won his first gold medal in the halfpipe at age 19.

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Along with snowboarding, White also competed in skateboarding and is the most decorated X Games athlete of all time. The California native is also the first and only athlete to have competed in the Winter and Summer X Games. He won 13 snowboard golds – eight in the superpipe and five in slopestyle – and two in skateboard vert. On top of the X Game golds, “The Flying Tomato” also won five silver (three in snowboarding) and three bronze medals (two in snowboarding). He missed the cutoff by just 0.3 points trying to qualify for Team USA at the age of 15 before qualifying in 2006.

Revolutionary Icon

At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, White secured his second gold medal on his first run. He debuted a new trick on his second run, the Double McTwist 1260. This high-flying twist became his trademark and helped to revolutionize the sport. He wanted to have a victory lap that would be remembered, and boy was it ever. The trick combines three-and-a-half twists and two flips in one. He also performed the move in order to qualify for the final this year.

Other tricks that became associated with White are the double cork 1440, where he flips twice diagonally while spinning four times, and the triple cork that has three diagonal flips. He pulled the double cork 1440 out in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, landing it in back-to-back turns. White did so in his final run to bring home his third and final gold medal. The gold medal was the 100th American gold medal in Winter Olympics history. He did this after falling during practice in New Zealand just months prior and requiring 62 stitches. To qualify for the Games, he landed a perfect 100 score, which he did again to qualify for Beijing.

Falling Short, But the Legacy Lives

Unfortunately for White, he came up short in his fifth and final Olympics, finishing fourth in the halfpipe. It was the second time he fell just short of the podium, as he finished fourth in 2014 at the Sochi Games. He became the oldest male halfpipe rider to ever participate in Olympic competition. Over three runs, his best score was his second in which he put up a score of 85, 2.25 points behind Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer, the bronze medalist. The winner of the gold medal in the event was Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who scored a 96 on his final run while landing a triple cork. He won the silver medal in the last two Olympics. The silver medalist was Scotty James of Australia, who was neck-and-neck with Hirano throughout the three runs.

In White’s final run, he crashed out during his second turn after landing a frontside 1440 on his first. He was overcome with emotions after the crash and took in the roar of cheers from the crowd as he made his way off the pipe. The Flying Tomato will live forever after an excellent career. Not only is he the greatest snowboarder of all time, but he is up there with Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps as some of the greatest athletes of all time.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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