Berliner Tageblatt - Emotional snowboard legend White misses Olympic medal in farewell

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Emotional snowboard legend White misses Olympic medal in farewell
Emotional snowboard legend White misses Olympic medal in farewell / Photo: ©

Emotional snowboard legend White misses Olympic medal in farewell

Retiring American snowboard legend Shaun White missed out on a halfpipe medal at the Beijing Olympics on Friday in his final competition, finishing fourth, as Japan's Ayumu Hirano claimed gold.

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The 35-year-old White, who will retire after the Games, scored 85.00 points to finish off the podium, as Hirano took gold in front of Australia's Scotty James and Switzerland's Jan Scherrer.

Three-time Olympic champion White was in medal contention after completing his first two of three runs, but he fell when he needed to beat Scherrer's score on his third and final run.

He looked subdued as he slid into the finish area, and had tears in his eyes, before smiling and waving to the crowd.

"It's been a journey, I'm just so happy and thank you all from the bottom of my heart," said a tearful White.

"A lot of emotions are hitting me right now, the cheering from the crowd, some kind words from my fellow competitors at the bottom, I'm so happy.

"Snowboarding, thank you. It's been the love of my life.

"It's been a journey. I can't wait to see where this sport goes."

Hirano snatched the title with an astonishing performance after trailing James going into the final run.

The twice silver medallist wowed the crowd with a series of gravity-defying tricks to take a dramatic first place with a score of 96.00.

James, who won bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, finished second on 92.50 points, while Scherrer was third on 87.25.

White is twice the age of some of his rivals and at his fifth, and final, Olympics.

He only booked his spot in the US team at the last moment, after injuries and a bout of Covid-19 hampered his progress.

Bursting onto the Olympic scene in 2006, White was known as the "Flying Tomato" for his lustrous long red locks and explosive riding style.

He won gold in the halfpipe in 2006 and 2010 before missing out on a medal in a shock upset at the 2014 Sochi Games.

But he regained his crown four years later in Pyeongchang with a dramatic last ride, which he described as his "legacy performance".

He announced on the eve of his appearance at the Games that this would be his last hurrah, citing "little signs" from his ageing body.

"I wish I could have landed my last run, but I was having some difficulty in my back leg for some reason, it was giving out on every run, I don't know why," he said Friday, bowing out.

"Maybe it was the pressure, maybe it was just exhaustion.

"Really challenging, but that's OK, that's it, I'm done.

"I'm so thankful for my career, thankful to China for having us."