You can read a full report on Shaun White’s victory here:
Everything you could ask for in an Olympic event.
A legend does well. A phenom does better.
It all came down to one final run for Shaun White, one of the sport’s pioneers and a two-time gold medalist who faltered in Sochi and suffered a litany of injuries. No longer the “Flying Tomato” but an elder statesman. On the line: His third gold medal and the USA’s 100th of all time.
And he delivered.
Ayumu Hirano shouldn’t be disappointed. He’s surely the favorite for gold for perhaps the next three Olympics, depending on whenever the next prodigy appears.
They had to be this good. Nine riders broke the 80-point mark. The other three were pushing the envelope.
Thanks for following along with me on this historic Olympic event.
White flings away his board in excitement and falls to his knees as he sees his score.
And frankly, not even Scotty James could argue that. Back-to-back 1440s to start. Even more down the run.
GOAT. Any questions?
SHAUN WHITE WINS USA'S 100th GOLD
GOLD: White (USA)
SILVER: Hirano (JPN)
BRONZE: James (AUS)
Shaun White's final run ...
He has silver. To get gold, he needs a 95.25.
Frontside double cork 1440. Back-to-back 1440s. Double McTwist. Oh my. This is really good. What will the judges say?
Scotty James' final run
If you can do a 1440, Scotty, now’s the time. If not, at least the bronze is yours.
Back-to-back 1260s. The camera loses him on the next trick, and he loses his balance. It’s a bronze.
And now ... Shaun White goes for gold. It’ll either be Hirano-White-James or White-James-Hirano.
That’s the bottom nine sorted. Now ...
Ayumu Hirano has little pressure here. Scotty James and Shaun White have to answer his second run. An early landing on a 1440 isn’t so great, and he skids into the snow a couple of tricks later. No matter. He’s got a medal. Up to James and White to determine the color.
Ben Ferguson is the last rider who can upset the podium. And it’s a good run. Big air to fakie with a grab. A couple of good switches and a double back flip.
90.75! He’ll finish fourth. Not bad at all.
Japan’s Raibu Katayama stands sixth with 85.75. He’ll need a 92.00 to shake up the Big Three on the podium. He takes a long look at the pipe. He lands a smooth frontside 1440 and ends with a 1260 with a tail grab. Impressive, but a couple of the grabs and landings looked slightly off.
It’s an 87.00, better than his 85.75 but not quite enough to catch Josey for fifth.
So fourth through sixth are currently Burgener (SUI), Josey (USA) and Katayama (JPN).
As the strains of Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down fade, Swiss rider Jan Scherrer drops in. Back-to-back 1080s, 900 with a melon grab, backside 1260, and a frontside ... fall. That’s a 70.75, not beating his second-run 80.50. He’ll finish ninth (and Pates clinches eighth).
Bottom five of this final are set: Pates, Scherrer, Callister, Totsuka and Piiroinen.
Five riders have a chance to shake up the top seven ...
The back-to-back Americans are up. First, it’s Jake Pates, currently eighth and guaranteed no worse than ninth.
Pates starts with a double Michalchuk, then a double-cork 1080 and ... the landing’s off. He’ll stay where he is in the standings.
Josey was on the podium after the first run. Hirano knocked him off. Burgener knocked him to fifth, but that doesn’t change his target: The 92.00 of Scotty James. The double bacon flip looks good. And a double Michalchuk. Can he do it? Oh, he puts a hand down on the 1260 right at the end. That’s probably just enough of an error to keep him from a medal.
And it is. He improves ever so slightly to 88.00 and remains in fifth for now.
So before White takes his last shot at Hirano, nine riders will take a shot at James to see if they can get on the podium. (It’s quite unlikely any of the nine could dislodge Hirano and White from the top two.)
Callister (AUS) is just shy of his best run. He’ll stay in 10th.
Piironen (FIN) just doesn’t have it today. He slips again and improves to 13.50, 12th in our 12-man final.
Totsuka (JPN) will not take his third run. We don’t yet have an update on his condition after his horrific second-run crash.
Burgener (SUI) just doesn’t seem to have a ton of energy, but he lands a double Michalchuk at the end. If you’re not going to contend for a medal, might as well look good and exult at the end, which he does. And he’s actually close! 89.75 moves him to fourth, bumping Josey to fifth.
Full scores after second run
Shaun White will need something spectacular to win the 100th gold medal in USA history. (He will have exactly 3 percent of those medals if he pulls it off.)
- Hirano (JPN) 95.25
- White (USA) 94.25
- James (AUS) 92.00
- Josey (USA) 87.75
- Katayama (JPN) 85.75
- Burgener (SUI) 84.00
- Ferguson (USA) 83.50
- Pates (USA) 82.25
- Scherrer (SUI) 80.50
- Callister (AUS) 62.00
- Totsuka (JPN) 39.25
- Piiroinen (FIN) 12.75
Shaun White's second run
What can he do now to reclaim the lead? He goes for it with back-to-back 1440s, but he runs out of steam on the second landing and slips on an off-axis 1260. He’ll remain in second place.
Scotty James' second run
Opens with back-to-back 1260s and looks smooth but not spectacular. He puts a hand down on his last landing, which is surely enough of an error to keep him from beating the 92.00 from his first run. 81.75 it is. Third place.
Lead change ...
Ayumu Hirano starts with massive air and lands back-to-back 1440s. And more. Our announcer says he won X Games with exactly this run. This’ll be in the 90s ...
FIRST PLACE ... 95.25.
Finland’s Jan Scherrer has a strong finish to his second run with back-to-back 1260s. That’s an 80.50, up to seventh.
Japan’s Raibu Katayama stands fourth as he enters the pipe. Big air to start, frontside 1440, cab double-cork 1080 and ... ouch. It’s a low landing, and he’s holding his mouth as if he banged his face on his knee. That was shaping up to be a terrific run, but he rips off his helmet and glides down. For the record, the score is 25.00.
The USA’s Ben Ferguson puts in a double crippler halfway down and has a couple of nice off-axis jumps. But his first tricks aren’t clean, and he seemed to be holding back toward the end of the run. He’ll need a big third run. This one gets ... an 83.50? Ahead of Pates? Really?
Bergener does a lot of 1080s, just as in his first run, but he misses the landing on the last trick. Didn’t seem quite as fluid this time, but the atmosphere after Totsuka’s crash is surely not conducive to a great run. No improvement in his score.
Pates has a good one -- double Michalchuk, double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080, front 900 with a melon grab, and one more. It’s a 82.25, moving him up to sixth.
Fellow American Josey lost momentum through a series of wobbly landings and finally face-planted on a landing. 52.25, nowhere near his the run that currently has him on the podium bubble.
We have an injury. Yuto Totsuka landed hard on the edge of the pipe. As with Emily Sweeney’s crash in the luge, the impact silences the crowd. He’s conscious and sitting up, but the medical crew is wrapping him up before bringing him down to the finish. This will take a few minutes.
Second run underway ...
Callister has a decent run going and goes for an unspecified big trick at the end, but he can’t stick the landing. Still a score of 62.00 somehow, moving him up to sixth.
Piiroinen lands his first trick this time. Then he falls on his second.
That run was so big, all the people I follow on Twitter to give me fun tweets to post during this event have fallen silent.
So why not chime in yourself? Just mention @duresport
Shaun White’s opener and the first run leaders ...
I lost track of these tricks. Opened with a giant frontside double-cork 1440, some sort of 1260, something else, then a combo of 1260s with a McTwist thrown in ...
If this isn’t a bigger score than James’ run, he did some snowboarding foul we didn’t see. Yep, he’s the leader. 94.25
LEADERS AFTER FIRST RUN
- White (USA) 94.25
- James (Australia) 92.00
- Josey (USA) 87.75
Again -- only the best score counts from each rider. If anyone else gets a 90, those first-run slips won’t matter.
Scotty James' first run
The Aussie has already been in two Olympics, but this is his first time reaching the top 20 in halfpipe. He has had an excellent quadrennium, though, with a medal of every color from the X Games Aspen and back-to-back World Championships.
His first run ...
Frontside double-cork 1260, backside 1260, frontside 1080 with nose grab, cab 540 with grab with an unusual name, backside 1260.
So it’s a good variety of stances and grabs. No 1440. And the score is ...
92.00. Oh boy.
Ayumu Hirano (Japan) took the silver medal in 2014 and set a record as the youngest athlete to win an Olympic medal in a “snow event.” He was only 15. This season, he won the X Games Aspen and two World Cup events.
In other words, this is a contender. He supposedly can land back-to-back 1440s. But here, he does a 1440 and then ... nothing quite as good, and he slips on the landing. Not a contender on this run.
Ben Ferguson (USA) won the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics halfpipe and has a pair of X Games podiums, including third place this year.
His landings here are too far down the pipe. Not enough momentum, and he ends up coasting through the run.
REMINDER: They get three runs. Only the top score matters.
And we have three riders remaining in the first run.
Jan Scherrer (Switzerland) finished 18th in this event in Sochi, where he was also 19th in slopestyle. He has a few top-fives here and there.
He goes for a 1260, which Josey did not attempt, but he ends up on his back.
This prompts an existential question. Why can a figure skater fall once and still medal, but a snowboarder has to be clean until he’s waving to the fans at the end? I don’t know, but Scherrer’s score isn’t worth reporting here.
Raibu Katayama (Japan) has a World Cup win and was sixth in this year’s X Games Aspen. Frontside 1440, then a 1260. A backside 1260 goes into a frontside 1260 with a grab.
My goodness. Surely this is in the 90s. No, it’s an 85.75. Can someone explain that to me?
Jake Pates (USA) won the halfpipe and slopestyle in the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics. He also has a World Snowboard Tour win this season. He lists fellow finalist Ayumu Hirano as one of his heroes.
Pates spins and flips like they’re going out of style. They’re not, are they? It’s impressive, but the landings aren’t that clean, especially the last. Score: 47.00
Chase Josey (USA) has back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the X Games Aspen, and he has a World Cup win.
He lands some sort of “switch double crippler,” which he apparently earned the right to name it, so it’s a double bacon flip. He also does a couple of double Michalchuks, which ...
I don’t know. I think it’s good. So do the judges. 87.75. Leader. Contender.
Yuto Totsuka (Japan) is 16. He already leads the World Cup, though in snowboarding, the World Cup doesn’t always attract the best riders. Still, we should surely remember this name for 2022, when the action shifts a little ways north to Beijing.
The teenager goes big, with a lot of 1080s, and it’s clean until his last landing, where he skids to the end of the pipe. Judges don’t like falls, no matter how late.
Patrick Burgener (Switzerland) is a musician. And he finished third in last year’s World Championships.
Two double corks 1080s, one front one cab. A 1260 sneaks in there. That’s an excellent run. Score: 84.00. That might already be good enough for top six in this final.
We're off ...
Kent Callister is from Australia but supports the Oregon Ducks in U.S. college football. His career highlight so far is a World Cup podium as a teenager a few years ago.
Callister gets a nice method air, then goes for an off-axis 1080 and doesn’t land it. The irrelevant score is 20.00.
Peetu Piiroinen (Finland) is the 2010 silver medalist in this event. He’s also a slopestylist, placing 18th in that event in South Korea. And he competes in big air as well, so get used to seeing him.
Piiroinen also slips on his first trick. Not an auspicious start here.
The favorites ...
Judging questions or not, the three favorites were the three top riders in qualifying -- White, James and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano. They’ll go in inverse order of their qualifying scores in each run of this three-run final.
We’re about to start, and I’ll give you a brief bio of each rider along with the first run commentary.
Scotty James wasn’t commenting specifically about White’s qualifying run in this interview, but the Australian rider has certainly raised an issue with judging in general.
Will we have controversy tonight?
Judging the women’s halfpipe was relatively easy. There was Chloe Kim, and then there was everyone else.
Not so easy in men’s halfpipe. Put yourself in the judges’ shoes and gaze upon Shaun White’s 98.50 qualifying run ...
Twenty minutes to go.
Meanwhile, enjoy the pairs figure skating short program, which has just started, or check in on the first session of men’s curling, where the USA has snared the lead against the host nation.
More terms you might hear ...
Spin direction: Frontside and backside give a general direction. Then if the rider ends up switching stances (left foot first vs. right foot), it’s either a switch-backside or a “cab,” which is shorthand for switch-frontside.
Grabs: In the women’s competition, we heard “mute,” “stalefish,” “nose,” “tail” and “melon.” We did not hear “beef carpaccio,” but I’m leaving this Wikipedia page open just in case I need to know what that is.
The best evidence yet that Shaun White has this under control ...
... is the vote of confidence from Leslie Jones.
How do you watch this?
To an extent, it’s like figure skating. They get into the air and spin. One big difference is that figure skating uses “double” and “triple” to say how many times someone has spun around, while snowboarders require us to remember that a circle is 360 degrees. You’ll see references to 540 (one and a half times around), 720 (twice), 900 (etc.), 1080 (three), 1260 (etc) and the mythical 1440.
But it’s not just about the jumps. Judges are looking for a variety of tricks, including grabs and different stances. Amplitude (height) is also a big deal.
Last night, a few of the women’s competitors tried 1080s to match the brilliance of Chloe Kim, but they didn’t land cleanly and lost momentum. That’s made for the amplitude on the rest of the run. Also, of course, it’s more difficult to spin around if you’re not well up in the air.
(Look, we’re relying on the commentators, too. It’s OK. But you get the idea.)
100! 100 gold medals!
Possibly. The USA currently has 99 gold medals in the Winter Olympics. (All time, that is. Not in 2018. The Winter Olympics have expanded, but 99 in one Games would still be ... something.)
So Shaun White (or possibly Ben Ferguson, and don’t rule out an upset by Chase Josey or Jake Pates) could raise that total to 100 in the next few hours. Or Australia’s Scotty James or Japan’s Ayumu Hirano could spoil the Americans’ party, leaving the 100th gold to Mikaela Shiffrin. If Shiffrin slips in slalom, maybe Jessie Diggins or Susan Dunklee winning the first U.S. women’s medals in their respective sports (cross-country skiing or biathlon) and the USA’s 100th?
Many paths toward history are possible in the next few hours. We’re going to watch the first one, with White, James, Hirano and company in the halfpipe.
Beau will be with us shortly. In the meantime, here’s how the women’s final finished yesterday:
A star was born on Tuesday morning in the Taebaek mountains as the American teenager Chloe Kim launched out of a halfpipe into the hearts of the world, delivering on her long-held promise with an Olympic gold medal.
The precocious 17-year-old from greater Los Angeles earned a score of 93.75 in her opening run at the Phoenix Snow Park. That was more than enough to clinch the title, but Kim managed to top it with a near-perfect mark of 98.75 on her third and final attempt with back-to-back 1080s, punctuating her arrival with the daring maneuver she remains the only female rider to have landed in competition.
You can read the rest of the report below: