2010 Winter Olympics: Breaking Down the Men's Halfpipe as Shaun White Wins Gold
It was the victory lap of all victory laps as Shaun White threw down the much-hyped Double McTwist.
The popular red-headed 23-year-old successfully defended his Olympic gold medal in the men’s snowboard halfpipe Wednesday evening, becoming just the fourth American male to successfully repeat at the Olympics.
He joined Dick Button (figure skating, 1948 and 1952), Seth Wescott, (snowboard cross, 2006 and 2010), and Shani Davis (long track speedskating, 2006 and 2010) as Team USA's only back-to-back Winter Olympians.
White was joined on the podium by teammate Scotty Lago who won the bronze medal.
It marked the third multiple-medal event of the day for the United States: The six medals are the most in a single day by the US in an Olympic Winter Games, surpassing the five earned on Feb. 20, 2002, at the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
Entering his second run with the gold already secured, White put on a show, improving from a 46.8 on his first run to a 48.4, giving him a 3.4 point advantage over silver medalist Peetu Piiroinen of Finland.
Lago fell on his second attempt, leaving him to rely on the 42.8 he’d posted on his first trip down the pipe.
From White's jaw-dropping 1260 to the frontside 1080, and every variation of the double corkscrew imaginable, there was a constant highlight reel of fast-paced, blurry activity high on top of Cypress Mountain.
Here's a review of the final, breaking down the 12 finalists that made tonight one of the greatest spectacles of the Games.
1. Shaun White (USA)
Shaun White repeated his gold medal from Torino with a stunning display in Vancouver tonight.
After leading from the first run, White knew he had scooped gold when teammate Scotty Lago failed to land a double corkscrew on his final run.
White was a deserving champion from start to finish. He was top after qualifying, leading after the first run of the final, and he even unveiled his Double McTwist in an otherwise meaningless victory ride.
In the opening run of the final, White, the posterboy of US snowboarding, knew what he had to do. He played it “conservative” by his standards, which was still ridiculous.
He carried incredible momentum just dropping in to the pipe, and he nailed a huge backside straight air, a double cork, switch double cork, and backside 900 for a score of 46.8.
He didn't even need to pull out his revolutionary Double McTwist—three-and-a-half rotations with two flips in his first run—he saved that for later.
His 46.8 was enough to give him the gold, but he bettered it on the second run with 48.4. After learning he had repeated as champion, White just stood at the top of the drop-in ramp.
"What shall I do?" White asked his coach.
"Do whatever you want. Enjoy it," was the reply.
"Can I ride down the middle?"
After a joking look from his coach, he was told to throw in the "Double Mac" on the last hit. Not wanting to disappoint his fans, White did just that, finishing the night in style.
A true winner in every sense of the word.
2. Peetu Piiroinen (Finland)
Peetu Piiroinen, fourth after the first of two runs with a score of 40.8, leapfrogged both I-Pod and Scotty Lago to claim the silver medal.
Piiroinen nailed a frontside 720, double cork, backside 900, and frontside 1080 to top off a very clean run. His 45 points bumped Lego into third and knocked Switzerland's I-Pod off the podium.
3. Scotty Lago (USA)
Lago, 10th in qualifying, had an incredible first run.
He started off with a huge straight air—a jump without a rotation—and he followed it up with some incredible combos: a 1080, double cork 1080, switch double cork, and backside 900 for a total score of 42.8.
Second heading into the final run, he knew he needed at least 45.1 to reclaim the silver which Piiroinen had taken from him moments earlier.
He nailed the opening 1080, but fell to the ground on a double cork on the second half of the combination, confirming his bronze medal.
4. Iouri Podladtchikov (Switzerland)
Podladtchikov scored 42.4 on his first run, good enough for third place, but he failed to expand on it in his second run, eventually dropping out of the medals and into fourth.
I-Pod landed back-to-back doubles (the first frontside, the second switch) in his opening run, electrifying the crowd and coming within 0.4 of Lago's then-leading score of 42.8.
But he clipped the back of his board trying to land a double cork on his second run, failing to square up the landing and finished 2.6 points shy of a medal.
5. Louie Vito (USA)
Vito scored 39.1 on his first run, but he only managed to improve to 39.4 on his second. It meant there would be no US sweep on the podium, and Vito knew after his run that he could not finish better than fifth.
The first person to land a double corkscrew in competition, Vito had a clean opening run top to bottom. He landed back-to-back double corks—one a switch—and a frontside 1080 to end a solid run.
But a sloppy straight air in the second run likely cost him marks, after a switch double cork and a backside 540 had given him every chance of challenging for a medal. A frontside 1260 to end the run was not enough to salvage his competition.
6. Markku Koski (Finland)
Finland's Koski 36.4 score on the opening run of the final was his best offering of the night.
He started off with solid back-to-back tricks involving three full revelations: a frontside 1080 and a switch 1080.
7. Justin Lamoureux (Canada)
Lamoureux recorded 35.9 in the second run, but it was not enough to improve to the seventh position he posted after run No. 1.
Lamoureux, the only Canadian in the final 12, nailed a frontside 720 and a 1080 on the second run after throwing down a 900 and a backside 900 on his first.
He would have hoped to have done better in front of his home crowd, but seventh is nothing to be ashamed about.
8. Kazuhiro Kokubo (Japan)
21-year-old Kazuhiro Kokubo improved from ninth after the first run with a score of 35.7. He lost marks after touching on the landing, but it was still enough to top the inverted 540 and a frontside 1080 on his first run.
Kokubo went in to his final run battered and bloody after slamming into the ice at the end of the pipe when he failed to land his version of the double cork.
9. Ryo Aono (Japan)
Fellow Japanese boarder Aono scored 32.9 on his first run, almost wiping out after losing his balance on the straight air, the opening element of the run.
Other than the in-air wobble though, Aono had a solid run which included a backside 900.
Knowing he needed something special in the second run, Aono was left with his hands on his head after missing the second of back-to-back 1080s.
10. Mathieu Crepel (France)
France's Crepel was bad in his first run and useless in the second, but he still finished 10th.
He skidded out trying to nail a double cork on his opening run and faltered early in his second offering to leave Vancouver empty-handed.
11. Markus Malin (Finland)
Mallin knows he didn't have the best competition.
The Finnish rider crashed out on his second double cork after landing a backside 900 and a double cork in his first combination on the opening run.
Going for it on the second, Malin landed a backside 900 and double cork, but he went down on the second DC.
12. Greg Bretz (USA)
American Greg Bretz failed to shine in the first run, crashing on a 1080 attempt. He landed a backside 900 and a double cork, but the wipeout meant he finished with just 18.3.
But the 19-year-old, the youngest member of Team USA's snowboard team, crashed out on an attempted double cork after starting off with a backside 900.