- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Shaun White, your breathtaking final half-pipe snowboard run Tuesday had us weeping for joy with you.

You cried, and so we cried, as soon as you saw the judges’ score — you had won the gold.

We cried, too, throughout the long, tearful embrace between you and your father Roger, while the Olympics committee waited for you to mount the podium.

You had won Olympic gold in 2006 and again in 2010 but placed fourth — no podium, no medal — in 2014. This was perhaps your last chance for redemption.

We cried as we watched you, Shaun, and your mother Cathy embrace and bawl together; and your sister Kari and brother Jesse. And your longtime girlfriend, Sarah Barthel, half of the electro-rock band Phantogram.

Nothing’s ever perfect, if you haven’t already noticed. That includes you, Shaun.

We winced each time you let Old Glory fall from your shoulders and drag in the Pyeongchang snow.

We know you unknowingly let the flag touch the ground as you sobbed on the South Korea mountain snow.

We don’t remember any Olympian in any winter or summer games crying that hard and embracing his family that lovingly and long.

It should have seemed sappy and embarrassing. It didn’t.

It was real. Oh, thank God, was it ever real. Not the choreographed, superheated, fall-to-the-ground, hands-to-face ecstasy you sometimes see winners perform in televised sports.

Watching you, we somehow felt we, too, had won and had done the impossible when on that third run, you, Shaun, came from behind to win with superhuman aerial artistry.

The thing is, we’ve all known you so long you seem almost like family. We remember way back in 2006 when you wore a fine, full head of long red hair. You were the 19-year-old the world called “The Flying Tomato” and you won your first Olympics gold.

That was in the half-pipe — called that because the course mimics the bottom half of a huge drainage pipe sliced in half along its 600-foot length — that’s two football-fields.

Why you, Shaun, or anyone who enjoys life would eagerly do hysterically over-the-top tricks on that thing is nutty — but comprehensible. We would do it, too, if we had your athleticism. Or at least we feel we would.

The $400,000 sliced pipe you rode on Tuesday sits in the Pyeongchang snow, curved side down, measuring an intimidating 22 feet from pipe’s bottom to the top of each its two sidewalls.

When you and Ladies’ Half-pipe gold-medal winner and fellow American Kim Chloe start a run, you’re atop the equivalent of a two-story building.

Those tops stand a yawning 70 feet apart in Pyeongchang.

On the pipe’s curved body, Olympics crews pack snow so tightly that it turns to unforgiving ice — you probably called it cement and nobody called you a liar.

Hit the edge and you can crack your head open, break your back or do what you, Shaun, did in New Zealand while training on a half-pipe for Pyeongchang.

You slammed so hard, nose first, into the top edge of the pipe that it took 62 stitches to keep your face together.

Talk about climbing back on the horse.

Every time you plant your feet on a snowboard, the only idea you have is to whoosh down the side wall fast enough to zip up the other wall and soar into the air another 22 feet above the top. And do the insane, suicidal tricks that you do so superhumanly well, upside down.

Some people might think only teenyboppers have the agility and ignorance of mortality to perform this insanely thrilling craziness.

Some people would be standing alone in left field.

You, Shaun, are 31. You cry when happy, but you are not crazy. Your thrills exceed ours. By at least a half-pipe.

So, some people, go ahead. Cry.


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