Pyeongchang, South Korea: U.S. snowboarder, Shaun White, made history, Wednesday, as he came from behind to win his third Olympic gold medal in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe – which was incidentally the United States’ 100th gold medal in Winter Olympic Games.
In front of the biggest crowd so far at Pyeongchang’s Phoenix Snow Park, White started with a strong run of 94.25, before being passed by Japanese teenager Ayumu Hirano.
After scuffing his second run, the 31-year-old American, already a legend of his sport, then had to wait until the final moments of the competition to reclaim gold. His final run earned him a score of 97.75, and started with two back-to-back 1440s.
“Man, three gold medals. My fourth Olympics. Thank you, I’m feeling blessed,” White said, after hurling his snowboard and collapsing to his knees on hearing the news that he had won.
“I was so overwhelmed with happiness, I’ve been through so much to get here. 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’s win means the United States has now won gold in all four freestyle snowboard events so far in South Korea. The victory is also his third at an Olympics, after gold medals in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.
While Hirano claimed silver with a best score of 95.25, Australia’s Scotty James earned his country’s second medal of the Games with a bronze first run of 92.00.
He commended White’s work ethic, to get back on top of the podium after a surprising fourth spot in Sochi.
“He works hard, and we all work hard, and he just comes out and he knows these moments and he just delivers,” James said.
“I know he’s been working hard, so credit to him for being able to put it together today.”
Sixteen-year-old Japanese boardrider Yuto Totsuka had to be stretchered off the pipe after falling heavily in his second run and did not complete his third run.
Snowboard action continues on Thursday with qualifying and finals for the men’s snowboard cross. The women’s snowboard cross races are due to take place Friday.
The 2018 Winter Olympics, the 23rd winter Olympiad, is being held Pyeongchang, South Korea, between 9-25 February 2018. It’s the first Winter Olympics held in South Korea and the first Asian city outside of Japan to host the games.
PyeongChang is about 125 kilometers easterly of Korea’s collateral Seoul and about 100 kilomoeters south of a Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang has 102 events in 15 sports, making it the first Winter Games to transcend 100 award events.
The sporting events for the 2018 Winter Olympics are: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speed, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard and Speed Skating.
Newest additions as sports or events are: big atmosphere snowboarding, churned group alpine skiing, mass start speed skating and churned doubles curling.