Sergei Grits/Associated Press
Shaun White measures himself out in coffee spoons these days.
The wild child once known as "The Flying Tomato" has a much more buttoned-down demeanor than he did when he burst onto the scene many years ago. Perhaps not a big shock, given his status as the living, breathing dominant brand of snowboarding and snowboarding-related products and so on.
So by extension, it wasn't terribly shocking when White abruptly pulled out of the men's slopestyle, citing health and safety concerns. All the better to focus on his signature event, the halfpipe. Why take chances? A bird in the hand and all that.
But if you're going to do that, you darn sure better follow through on expectations, which are always pure gold when Shaun White and the halfpipe are involved.
But a repeat Olympic championship wasn't to be for White, who fell twice on his first run and ultimately failed to medal. Ironically, a couple of free spirits—Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov and his vaunted YOLO flip, Japan's Ayumu Hirano and his 15 years of existence on Earth—were among those who surpassed White.
I can't lie: It felt like the end of an era on the halfpipe Tuesday.