Andy Wong/Associated Press
Shaun White struggled in the halfpipe finals and was kept off the podium.
Call it the end of an era.
Shaun White has been the Godfather of snowboarding through the history of the sport. While it seems likely that White, 27, is nearing the end of his brilliant career, he appeared to have an excellent chance to bring home a gold medal in this event for the third straight time.
Not this time. While he got plenty of big air at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park as he completed his last run on the halfpipe, there were a couple of shaky landings and he lacked the explosiveness of eventual winner Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland and he could not claim victory in the event.
It gets worse for White. He did not even get to the medal stand as he was beaten by two Japanese boarders who finished second and third. It was truly an impressive performance for Ayumu Hirano, the second-youngest medalist ever at 15 years, 74 days. Hirano won the silver medal, while countryman Taku Hiraoka brought home the bronze medal.
Americans Danny Davis and Gregory Bretz also struggled in the finals. Davis finished 10th, while Bretz finished 12th and last.
However, the huge news of the day was White's failure to make the podium, and perhaps the end of his era in snowboarding.
Gold: Iouri Podladtchikov, Switzerland
Silver: Ayumu Hirano, Japan
Bronze: Taku Hiraoka, Japan
Update by Steve Silverman
Shaun White got off to a sensational start in the halfpipe with a score of 95.75 in his first run through the pipe, and that gave him a 2.50-point lead in the event.
When it comes to the men's snowboarding halfpipe, all conversation must begin and end with American Shaun White.
Well, except at Sochi, of course. Much of the conversation leading up to the halfpipe competition has centered on the condition of the course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. American Danny Davis, who is expected to contend for a medal, called it "garbage" and "crappy" in an interview with Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Others, including White, have been more restrained in their comments but still less than complimentary.
Whatever the case, it is the venue on which they must compete in these Olympics.
No matter what the conditions, the creative and energetic White remains the overwhelming favorite to win the gold.
Davis likely will be left to battle his own negativity over the course and the likes of Russian-born favorite Iouri Podladtchikov—now skating under the Swiss flag—for the remaining places on the podium.
Gold: Shaun White, United States
Silver: Iouri Podladtchikov, Switzerland
Bronze: Danny Davis, United States