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Why Shaun White Had The Best 2018

By Chrös McDougall | Dec. 25, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

Shaun White celebrates winning gold at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 14, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.


Some might say Shaun White is getting too old for this.

At 31 years old, the snowboarding star had more than a decade on some of his opponents in the men’s halfpipe snowboarding competition at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

And with one run left, White trailed 19-year-old Japanese sensation Ayumu Hirano by a point.

Had the time come, perhaps, for White to pass the baton to the next generation?

Not quite.

White, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic champ who had devastatingly finished fourth in 2014, dropped into the pipe and opened with back-to-back 1440s. A frontside 540 on his third hit led to a Double McTwist before he closed out the run with a front side double cork 1260, landing on the run.

Raising his hands in elation, White slid into the finishing area with a roar.

“If anybody was writing him off at the top, he has just proved snowboarding wrong again,” the NBC announcer breathlessly called out.

When his final score was revealed at 97.75, confirming White as the champ once again, the Californian couldn’t help but throw his board and scream again. With three gold medals in four Olympics, White confirmed his place as king of the halfpipe and redeemed his fourth-place finish four years earlier in Sochi.

“I had to dig deep for this one,” White said. “It was so overwhelming. I was crippled with joy.”

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 Matching that February high would be an impossible feat, but that’s not to say White didn’t have his share of other highlights in 2018. Take a scroll through his Instagram feed and you’ll see the Southern California native taking in the US Open, surfing with the iconic Kelly Slater at the latter’s revolutionary Surf Ranch facility in California, and meeting Post Malone, whose music was playing in White’s earphones when he won the gold medal.

And that’s not to mention White’s other world travel, including with his Air + Style music and snowboard festival, and earlier this month to Tokyo, where he accepted the award of Best Male Athlete of PyeongChang 2018 from the Association of National Olympic Committees. That goes with two ESPY awards he won this summer.

He also started his year with a perfect score of 100.00 at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix in January, adding to his 100.00 from 2012. Chloe Kim is the only other rider to earn that mark.

If he has his way, White might be back in Tokyo in two years, this time as a skateboarder. The sport makes its Olympic debut in 2020, and White, now 32, is deciding whether to go all in for a summer medal. After all, he’s won five X Games medals in skateboarding, though the most recent one was in 2011 and they came in the non-Olympic event of vert.

And after that? He plans to be back on the snowboard halfpipe in 2022, this time going for a fourth Olympic gold medal.

First, though, White is going to sit back and enjoy the end of one memorable 2018.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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