Feb. 13 (UPI) — Shaun White delivered Team USA’s 100th gold medal in Winter Games history Wednesday on his final run in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe final.
He did it in walk-off fashion, as White had the last run overall at the event, due to his high score in qualifying. The win gave the 31-year-old his third career gold medal at the Winter Games.
“You know honestly, I just felt it inside. I had it,” White told NBC after the run. “I knew I had to put it down and it’s so hard to describe. I knew I had it, but I had to still do it. I was working my way through the run, trick after trick, and it’s going well…better and better and I’m riding away and I can’t tell you how amazing it felt.”
Japan’s Ayumu Hirano sat in first place going into the final run, with a score of 95.25. White was in second, using his score of 94.25 from his first run. 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. But the order of where they would stand was unknown. Hirano and James both fell on their final runs, meaning White was guaranteed at least a silver medal.
White knew that if he could eclipse Hirano’s score, he could climb to the highest point on the podium.
The Flying Tomato began his run flying down the left side of the halfpipe. He pulled off back-to-back 1440s, before going into a Sky Hook. White then went for a double McTwist 1260, which includes a 1260 with two flips and three half-twists before landing.
“I was just hoping and praying that they [judges] gave it to me,” White told NBC. “I was standing there and I I’m like ‘I’m pretty sure I put it down.’ They were taking a while and I’m trying not to make eye contact with the judges booth.”
White was given a 97.75. He shed a shower of happy tears after finding out he won another gold medal.
The four-time Olympian won his first gold medal at the 2006 Winter Games when he was 18 years old. He won again at the 2010 Winter Games at 22. White did not reach the podium at the 2014 Winter Games.
He was the oldest competitor in the halfpipe event in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“My family just says I like to show off,” White said. “They are like, ‘you do this every time. You wait until the last run.’ And I’m like, ‘it’s what I do, I’m sorry.’ I need the pressure. I need the build and the energy and it helps me get it done.”
“The spirit of competition helps me get my runs accomplished and gets me motivated and I’m just so thankful for today.”
Team USA swept snowboarding events at the Winter Games, with Chloe Kim winning the women’s halfpipe, Jamie Anderson winning the women’s slopestyle, Red Gerard winning the men’s slopestyle and White winning the men’s halfpipe.