He came, he conquered, and the crowd got everything they could have hoped for. Shaun White, known as the Flying Tomato for his long red locks, twisted and flew his way to gold on the men’s halfpipe snowboard event at Cypress Mountain. His final score was a near-perfect 48.4 out of 50.
“I just feel so happy to put down that last run, it was the best run of my life,” he told reporters in an impromptu press conference on the mountain. “It’s the world stage, why not deliver something spectacular.”
On the bus up to the event, White, a multi-millionaire who owns his very own personal halfpipe in his backyard, had told his fellow boarders on the American team the site here had been getting better and better each day, predicting it would be great for today’s event. As it turned out, he was bang on. For all the griping about snow, or the lack thereof, on Cypress, several boarders said the halfpipe was in perfect condition. “The halfpipe on the first day was one of the worst of my life, but by today it was one of the best of my life,” White said.
But watching White soar through the cold night sky, one gets the impression the guy could turn in a medal performance on shaving cream.
White admitted his hands were shaking at the top of the pipe. He said he’d never felt as nervous as he did before his final run of the day. There was intense pressure on him to perform, with not just his country but the entire world of boarding watching his every move. But after successfully landing his trademark move, the Double McTwist 1260, his victory was cemented.
The silver went to Peetu Piiroinen of Finland, who scored a 45.0, while bronze went to American Scott Lago, with a 42.8. The two snowboarding medals made today the most successful day in Winter Olympic history for the U.S., with 6 medals in total.
Canadian Justin Lamoureux turned in Canada’s best-ever Olympic showing in the men’s halfpipe. He placed 7th overall after a strong and clean run, besting by far his 21st place showing in Turin four years ago.
The 33-year old boarder more than held his own against many of his younger competitors—the youngest of whom was a tender 15. Careful with the subject of age around Lamoureux, though. “What, are you calling me old?” he said afterwards. But even he acknowledged the age difference. “It’s my sport, I’ve been doing it since some of these guys were born.”
Maybe, but tonight the halfpipe was thoroughly owned by White.