Shaun White is set to compete in both the slopestyle and superpipe finals over the weekend to close out the Winter X Games. The world's best-known snowboarder will be facing increasing pressure to perform once again. If he doesn't come up with two golds, White's X Games campaign will have to be considered a failure.
White has set the bar incredibly high. He's won 17 medals at the Winter X Games and last year completed a superpipe run with a perfect score of 100.0. He's dominated snowboarding and has been the face of winter sports.
While White has set his sights on Sochi and 2014 Winter Olympics, a fault at the Winter X Games can only harm White's reputation. As part of his standard he set, White simply can't afford to lose in either of his two events, but especially the superpipe.
Newcomer and 19-year-old Mark McMorris will be gunning to take down White in the slopestyle. McMorris won gold in the event last year and finished first in qualifying with a score of 88.66. His run put him solidly ahead of White's best run, which was good for a score of 67.33.
As the dominant name in snowboarding over the last 10 years, White risks losing some of that ground to McMorris. The up-and-comer broke onto the scene last year by winning gold in the slopestyle and the big air. He features smooth runs and exciting tricks.
In the slopestyle, the two competitors could attempt the triple cork. The trick has only been completed in a big-air competition (McMorris) and never in slopestyle. If McMorris lands the trick and White doesn't, that will be a huge disappointment for White.
In addition to fighting off newcomers, White needs to battle himself. He needs to one-up himself from last year when he delivered the perfect run in the superpipe. His fans, and snowboarding fans in general, will be expecting another great run. Much of the pressure that falls on White was created by him and his dominance of the sport.
To live up to expectations and take momentum into the rest of the year, White simply has to win gold in both events.