Shaun White earns gold in men’s halfpipe finals

On the sixth day of the Olympics, spectators crowded onto Cypress Mountain just outside of Vancouver to witness the men’s snowboarding halfpipe finals. Twelve men from six different countries had posted scores good enough to earn them a chance at gold. The name on everyone’s mind, however, was Shaun White.

As the sport’s most recognizable figure, White was the gold medal favorite in the event. The snowboarder had won top billing in the winter X games days prior to coming to Vancouver. He has won the games for three consecutive years.

After the other 11 athletes had finished their first runs, White had his chance to impress. He had an amazing run that landed him in first place when he was awarded 46.8 points out of a total 50. His closest competitor, Scott Lago of Team USA had only earned 42.8 points.

Beginning his final run, White had the gold medal in the bag. Technically, he did not even need to do a single trick during his second run and would still end up on top of the podium. Instead, he pulled out his biggest trick to put an exclamation point on his already stellar performance. After practicing the twist five times, he first showed the double McTwist 1260 to the world at the 2010 Grand Prix in Park City, Utah. However, is its Olympic debut.

Boarding down the halfpipe, White was getting huge air—upwards of 20 feet. Then, at the end of his fourth jump, he landed low in the pipe and lost crucial speed as he was heading up into his signature new move, the double McTwist 1260. The redheaded snowboarder did not hesitate on the what he calls his “dream trick.”

As his board left the snow, White completed two flips while simultaneously rotating for three and a half twists. He just managed to complete the final half twist before returning to snow, but he landed the trick and stayed on his feet, “I just felt like I didn’t come all the way to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns,” White later said.

The crowd erupted into cheers as his final score was calculated. It was obvious White would be leaving the mountain with gold. His final run came back with a score of 48.4, more than three points ahead of the silver medalist Peetu Piiroinen of Finland. Lago’s 42.8 received bronze.