From left; Silver medal winner Ayumu Hirano, of Japan, gold medal winner Shaun White, of the United States, and bronze medal winner Scotty James, of Australia, celebrate after the men's halfpipe finals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday. Photo: AP

White soars to 3rd Olympic halfpipe title; Hirano gets silver

By Will Graves

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 100th overall gold by the United States in the Winter Games.

The 31-year-old White trailed Japan's Ayumu Hirano going into the last of the three runs in the 12-man final, but put together a daring set that included consecutive 1440-degree spins. White threw his board in the air when his winning score flashed, setting off a delirious celebration.

Hirano, who vaulted into the lead during his second run with a score of 95.25, took silver. Australia's Scotty James earned bronze.

White is the first American male to win gold at three separate Winter Olympics. Speedskater Bonnie Blair won gold in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Games

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.

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

Namely, put on a show.

White put together a dazzling first run at warm, slushy Phoenix Snow Park, 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.

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 like redemption.

White failed to reach the podium four years ago 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. Injuries started to pile up. Last fall he underwent emergency surgery on his nose and upper lip in New Zealand after smashing into the deck of the halfpipe during training and arrived in South Korea with stitches in his mouth 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.

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

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

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wow! what an exciting end to the half-pipe. man it just goesn't get any better than this. congrat to both white and hirano. it seems like they are pushing each other to higher boundaries. hope to see more of hirano in the future.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

White soars on to the Wheaties ads, plus millions, too toothpaste commercials, and milions, car food ads, etc...Sorry H, you did your best but you have the next O's to get those lucrative contracts and talk shows...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )


-4 ( +2 / -6 )

congrat to both white and hirano.

Congrats to all three, a bronze is nothing to sneeze at.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

That was a really epic halfpipe finals, incredible runs by especially the top 3. Hopefully Totsuka is alright and is recovering from his horrific fall..

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It was exciting but also there sure were a lot of accidents...especially last night during the women's competition, extremely windy conditions. But next exciting is upcoming hockey: Japan vs Korea or to put it: Abe/Trump vs Moon/Un....Go Japan.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

As much as I’d have loved Scotty James to win, Shaun White really is something special, and you just knew he would go big on that last run. Congrats to Scotty on an awesome Games, and little Hirano on his silver - the kid could be dominant when White finally hangs up his board.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I saw some of the videos of Hirano and White and you can see a distinct difference between their runs. I felt White was going much faster, jump much higher and took more risks. So deserved win imo. But Hirano is only 19 so he still has many chances in the future.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yep - that was a great final - maybe even yesterdays heat equalled it. Definitely the top 3 prevailed.

Been interesting if Yuki Kadono had been in it.

Anyone know exactly what misdemeanour he did, to not having been picked?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Congratulations to ALL of these guys for winning a medal. Has the UK one any medals yet? Even Kazakstan has won a Bronze medal!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Performing under pressure ... That was beautiful to watch !!! GO USA!!

31 vs. children who can fly. That was insane. Got to appreciate this accomplishment.

The top contenders were all awesome; they scare me to death with their tricks!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

they scare me to death with their tricks

Right. I'm not sure whether they should get medals or be locked up in an asylum.

Has the UK one any medals yet?

They're saving it up for the curling. If you thought the halfpipe was exciting, you ain't seen nothing yet. :-)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"People ask me when I got over Sochi, I'm like, 'F--king got over Sochi?' I never got over Sochi. I'll never get over Sochi. It's part of me now"

The King was supremely motivated to take back his crown. Needed something legendary to beat him today. No shame in coming second the Greatest of All Time when he's in such form.

Great contest. Hope the young fella who stacked it hard is OK, he was complaining of hip pain, would not be surprised if he has fractured his pelvis, the lip is essentially solid ice and he wiped out hard.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As much as I enjoyed the comp, I felt that other snowboarders were just here to make up the numbers and weren't given a fair go. Was always going to be the white/hirano/james show (same in all sports where judges determine the winner, you get an extra point or 2 on reputation/name alone).

If I hadn't known who was who, I think I would have still given GOLD to White but then 2 to 5-6 were pretty much interchangeable (thought the other J guy in particular was harshly done by).

0 ( +0 / -0 )


-3 ( +0 / -3 )

a bronze is nothing to sneeze at.

but gold is shinier

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

US got all the snowboard golds so far

Snowboard got popularized in the US, after all

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 I felt that other snowboarders were just here to make up the numbers and weren't given a fair go. 

Valid points, at the end of the day in the current climate you need to lay down 1440s and back to back 1440 to seal the deal. Even is you are smooth and flawless with your 1260s you need that extra 180 degrees.(unless the 1440 dudes crash )

Its like mens ice skating and the quad jump. It was thought that it as impossible to win gold without a quad

 "no Olympic gold medal will ever again be won by a man who doesn't try a four-revolution jump."  (some expert said)

until 2010 and the new judging sysytem and the American Lysacek won without a quad and the "quad controversy" was born.

Perhaps the "1440 controversy" will soon be a thing if the snowboard judging ever gets tweaked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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