Sochi Spotlight: Shaun White
Snowboarder Shaun White practices during a training session on during day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Feb. 8, 2014.
Performing a daredevil trick in the air is the thing.
For the last two Olympic Winter Games, U.S. halfpipe snowboarder Shaun White has been the best at it. Two Olympic appearances and two gold medals. When he lands a new trick at the Winter Games, the best of the rest of the world’s snowboarders try to copy it. Or top it.
On Feb. 11 at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, White will go after a gold-medal three-peat in the men’s halfpipe at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
A victory would mark the fourth consecutive gold medal in men’s halfpipe for the United States. Ross Powers began the streak by leading a 1-2-3 American sweep at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
White had intended on also competing for a medal in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle competition (he is a five-time X Games champion in that discipline), but he withdrew a day after injuring his wrist during slopestyle training on the Olympic course.
“After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA,” White said in a statement and on his social media pages.
His decision to not compete in slopestyle was sudden and left other competitors and fans both supporting and criticizing him. Canadian snowboarders Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot called out White on Twitter, then deleted the posts and apologized.
White will have his opportunities to silence his critics on the halfpipe.
The Carlsbad, Calif., native is the only two-time gold medalist in Olympic snowboarding history.
When asked about the added pressure he has now in the halfpipe since he withdrew from slopestyle, White told reporters in Russia, “It's pretty amazing. I feel the same, I mean, it's not more pressure than I put on myself. I expect the best out of myself, always.
“There's always pressure and that's what motivates me to do bigger tricks and better tricks. I mean what's better than having all your competition lined up here today and showing them your hardest tricks, even when the pipe's not in the best condition.”
White might attempt to land a rare 1440 double cork, which includes four complete revolutions combined with somersaults and twists. He has been working on perfecting the trick for Sochi. He landed it in one of the selection events used to determine the U.S. Olympic Team. Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov (known also as “IPod”) also has a 1440 trick.
All rounds of the halfpipe competition will be held Tuesday, including the finals. Joining White on the U.S. team will be Greg Bretz, Danny Davis and Taylor Gold.
“I've got a lot of things on my mind - a triple could be one of them. I'm here to have a good practice, good warm-up, feel the course and then make some small steps towards the final days when we actually compete,” White said.
"We'll see what happens. Nothing's guaranteed, you know. For me, I'm hoping that the motivation comes from all the pressure. From all the people right here in the stands, cheering."