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Snowboard stunner: Shaun White, Team USA fail to medal in Olympic halfpipe
Those falls, and a hundred other reasons, are why White came into these games the heavy favorite to become only the seventh person to win three straight Olympic golds in an individual winter event.
The Yolo — You Only Live Once — includes a total of 1440 degrees of spin. It’s two head-over-heels flips and two 360-degree turns. Four years ago, it was unthinkable, but not anymore.
Well, maybe not so easy on this halfpipe.
It was sloppy, slushy and full of problems all week. Virtually nobody got a decent practice session in.
Thanks to a trip down the mountain from the crew that grooms the Alpine course, conditions improved. One of the supposed flaws of the pipe — too vertical on the sides — helped Podladtchikov keep the speed he needed to do the Yolo.
He landed it, and even though he only threw five tricks, when most riders were trying six, the judges liked what they saw.
As did Podladtchikov , who spiked his snowboard into the ground and threw his goggles into the crowd. He scored a 94.75.
“He’s incredible,” American Danny Davis, the 10th-place finisher. “That run on that halfpipe. Wow.”
White had come to Russia after a wild winter he spent trying to qualify in two events. He hurt his ankle and shoulder on the way, and changed his schedule on the fly and frequently. The biggest switch-up came when he pulled out of the Olympics‘ inaugural slopestyle contest the day before qualifiers, saying he didn’t want to risk injury there for his historic quest on the halfpipe.
And so, the stakes were set.
Riders all get two chances, and their best score counts.
On White’s first run, his attempt at the Yolo ended with a fall that left him sliding down the halfpipe on his backside. Further down the pipe, he tried to finish with another of his double-cork tricks. His board slammed and bent on the lip of the pipe, followed by an awkward and painful fall onto his rear. He was in 11th place after one round.
I-Pod’s second run put huge pressure on White. His final runs at the last two Olympics have been nothing more than stress-free victory rides.
Away he went.
By Tammy Bruce
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