US Olympian Shaun White competed in his fourth Winter Olympics this year in PyeongChang. He overcame the odds and managed to win his third gold medal, which also happened to be the USA’s 100th gold Winter Olympics medal. This is a significant feat both for White and the entire USA Winter Olympics team. He was favored to win according to most US online sportsbooks, but seeing him actually on the podium made it that much better.
White has won previous golds in 2006 in the Turin Winter Olympics and again in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, but those were not as meaningful as this victory. White was the last athlete up in the competition. He fell in his second run, and the leading competitior, 19-year-old Ayumu Hirano, just scored a 95.25 on a run with back-to-back 1440s, one of the more difficult tricks in snowboarding. White could’ve opted for doing a safe run and walking away with silver, but he decided to give it his all and push to make history. White’s gold medal-winning run consisted of back-to-back 1440s as well, but he also threw in his signature McTwist 1260. On top of the style points, White landed each trick clean and knew he had pulled off something incredible when he landed the last trick.
When they announced his final score, White was overcome with emotion. He was gracious in winning and credited Hirano and bronze medal-winner Scotty James for their efforts. He stated that without them and the level of competition they bring, White wouldn’t need to push himself to the limit in order to win.
His last Olympic outing was something of a disappointment. He finished fourth and missed out on the chance to become the first Winter Olympic athlete to score gold in 3 consecutive Olympics. That loss seemed to cause him to lose interest in the sport for a short period. He focused on music and other side projects. When PyeongChang came around, White began training again and preparing for a comeback. His comeback attempt was stifled when he suffered a horrific injury while traning in New Zealand. White hit his face on the lip of the halfpipe and required 62 stitches. The injury was gruesome, but the mental effects of such an incident can be devastating. People began to wonder if he’d be able to make it back to the podium.
His coach, JJ Thomas, spoke on White’s focus in getting back. He said it takes someone incredible to overcome that fear after an injury. Not only did White do that, but he did it at the Winter Olympics amongst the world’s best. White forever cemented himself in US Winter Olympics history with this victory. This may be his last ever Olympic appearance, and if so, he certainly went out with a bang.