5 Takeaways from Shaun White's Performance in the Halfpipe at the Sochi Olympics

Lacey DavisContributor IIIFebruary 14, 2014

5 Takeaways from Shaun White's Performance in the Halfpipe at the Sochi Olympics

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    Shaun White in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
    Shaun White in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Shaun White may not have won his only competition in the Sochi Olympics but that doesn't mean there wasn't anything positive to take out of the event. Other than being able to watch some of the most jaw-dropping performances that have ever been seen on a world stage, the general audience also got a first glance at many of the young stars that went home with a medal on Tuesday. 

    This isn't anywhere near the end for White, or at least we should hope not. He's still an incredible athlete with even more potential now that his competition his pushing him as much as he has pushed them in the past. With a higher level of competition comes a higher expectancy for White to continue performing better and better with every passing performance, something fans have to look forward to. 

    There is also now room for fans to get used to new names being thrown around the halfpipe. It isn't all about Shaun White anymore. There are new names that people can start getting used to hearing in the future. 

    Let's take a look at what we learned from Shaun's shocking run at the finals in Sochi. 

White's Competitors Will Finally Recieve Due Recognition

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    Ipod celebrates before the medal ceremony.
    Ipod celebrates before the medal ceremony.Associated Press

    Shaun White has turned snowboarding into an event that spectators are excited to watch and consciously look out for in the Olympics and other major events. He’s essentially the face of the sport in the U.S. Without him, many people wouldn’t give the sport a second thought other than every four years at the Olympics or however often they hit the slopes themselves.

    White has inspired many young snowboarders with his determination to win and big smile on his face. He has helped create opportunities in the sport with all the new publicity he has garnered for it over the years. However, now it’s time for other winter athletes to become household names as well.

    With his defeat this week, he has opened the door for a new generation of snowboarders to create names for themselves. Although it doesn’t appear that White will be retiring in the near future, he may not be the only familiar face in the crowd anymore.

    With more spectators comes more fans and with that comes more inspired young athletes to reach for new goals. Nothing bad will happen to the sport because Shaun White was defeated. Although from an American standpoint we always love a winner, he still isn’t a forgotten name and he will still likely win many competitions he participates in.

    However, as American snowboarder Danny Davis told the New York Times: “The world knows now that there’s other snowboarders beside Shaun. It’s great, man. There’s a bunch of good riders in our sport, and they deserve some credit, too.”

    Davis is also a talented American snowboarder who has given multiple interviews lately saying some less than kind things about White. But regardless, the quote should stand for something coming from a teammate and fellow professional athlete in his field.

The Competition Is Improving

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    The 2014 halfpipe podium at the Olympic Games.
    The 2014 halfpipe podium at the Olympic Games.Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Iouri Podladtchikov, or Ipod as he is often called, created the "Yolo" trick, which is two-flips and four-rotations. White took it upon himself to try to master the move after realizing the acrobatics and high level of difficulty.

    This is just a glimpse into what the future holds for White as the competition continues to improve around him and he would like to prove he still belongs among the top year after year.

    He more or less cruised into a gold medal his last couple of times in the Olympics. However, now it is widely known that he didn’t even make it on the medal stand. This is the first time since the sport made an appearance in the Olympics in 1998 that an American didn’t win a medal.

    As was stated on the previous slide, Shaun has helped inspire a new generation of snowboarders. He obviously hasn’t done this alone but between being the most recognizable carrot top of his day and making brief appearances on the big screen, much more of the population is familiar with professional snowboarding than they would have been without his presence.

    Parents are more likely to flip to a sporting event for their child to watch or bring them to the competition in person if they have a familiar face to cheer for. People are able to find this in Shaun.

    Because he is so widely known and he has the athletic talent to back it up, children have looked up to him and many professionals have pushed themselves to get where he is now.

    "Ipod" told Today of White’s success, “It just motivates me. He made me go out there and try new tricks and all this.”

    It’s not that "Ipod" is the only competitor that is pushing himself because of White, either. There were two people between Shaun and first place. Those two had to have known what they accomplished in defeating the expected gold medalist. White has helped create the competition that he now faces.

    If he’s someone who really loves the sport then he should love this affect. The sport is continuing to become more challenging and impressive and he is one of the driving forces behind it.

The Olympic Spirit Is Still in Sochi

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    Ipod celebrating with White before the medals were awarded.
    Ipod celebrating with White before the medals were awarded.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    After Shaun White’s run in the finals and it was apparent that he wouldn’t make it on the medal stand, White and Podladtchikov hugged. With a huge smile on his face, "Ipod" said, “I love you. Thank you,” to the defending gold medalist according to Today.

    There didn’t appear to be any hard feelings in the transfer of power. White told the AP, via ESPN, that he was “disappointed…but it happens. It’s hard to be consistent.”

    These two quotes epitomize what the Olympics are largely about. Athletes from different countries who are able to show inspiring sportsmanship when one has just reached a high point in their life and the other is crushed in defeat in front of a worldwide audience.

    Two extremes of emotion and yet, only smiles between the two when they spoke to each other. "Ipod" expressed his admiration for White and White exchanged the sentiment by musing the new champion’s hair.

    The gold medalist told a Russian newspaper, RIA Novosti, “The first question I asked him was: ‘Will you celebrate with me?’” Shaun, of course, responded positively to his request. Although White was disappointed, he wasn’t angry. Sportsmanship is about sharing in the triumph of your competition.

    White also exhibited a great characteristic of an Olympian when he said “it happens.” Dealing positively in the face of defeat on international television is inspiring to everyone who watches but especially the youth that look up to these people as role models.

White Is a Sports Hero

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    Nathan Bilow-USA TODAY Sports

    Shaun White isn’t the most beloved athlete within the snowboarding world because of his unrelenting will to win.

    Despite this, Shaun White is still a sports hero.

    He has been known to be the guy that doesn’t always hang around all the other snowboarders and just does his own thing. To each his own. If this is the way he stays inspired and determined to compete then he should keep doing what he’s been doing.

    It seems as though he has kept his focus in the sport even while trying new things like making small guest appearances in movies. He has proven that he belongs among the best and has been able to stay there for several years. That isn’t an easy feat in any professional sport. He has helped bring publicity as well.

    It appears as though saying he isn’t competing in the sport because of the sheer joy it brings him would be a difficult case to argue.

    The red-head is east to spot with a large grin on his face. He is a true competitor who is helping the sport reach new heights, literally and figuratively. An athlete in most other sports who has accomplished what he has been able to consistently over the years should and would also be considered a hero.

Sochi Is Not a Place for Winter Sports

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    Many errors were made among the snowboarding competitors.
    Many errors were made among the snowboarding competitors.Andy Wong/Associated Press

    For top-notch athletes at a top-notch competition it should be expected that the equipment they compete on would be equally top-notch. Although comparatively this doesn’t seem like Sochi’s biggest problem that they’ve had with hosting the Olympics, it affects what the athletes are able to do and could put their safety at risk.

    There was deep, surgery snow in between the two 22-foot walls on the halfpipe. This slows down the athletes as they are trying to build up speed heading up the wall and into their next trick. On Monday there were several complaints from the participants that the pipe was subpar.

    White withdrew from his slopestyle event because the course was “intimidating” per the BBC. As for the halfpipe on Monday, the day before the competition, there were many requests to postpone the event until the conditions improved.

    Monday night workers improved the condition of the pipe and the cold conditions on Tuesday helped keep it in tact. However, these still weren’t ideal conditions.

    Not to make an excuse for any of the athletes since they all had to deal with the same conditions, but many were falling or not landing properly. This can be the result of many different factors but the quality of the course certainly didn’t help.

    On a different course would a different champion have a medal around their neck? Who knows. These were the cards that were dealt and the best athletes are able to deal with adverse conditions. However, it is rare to see Shaun White make errors or fall. Again, everyone dealt with the same factors but it makes a person wonder how much the snow altered the strength of the competition.

    Jamie Anderson, an American female snowboarder told the Denver Post: “We are all making the best of it. It’s not the best course we have ever ridden.”

    One of the luxuries of attending this level of competition should be receiving the highest quality of equipment.