Legendary athlete Shaun White didn’t end his twenty year career with a gold medal, when he crashed during his final Olympic snowboard run, but he’s just “thankful” for his “bonus round.”
The Beijing Games marked White’s fifth and final Winter Olympics, after coming out of the gate with back-to-back men’s snowboarding halfpipe wins at Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010. He didn’t medal in 2014’s Sochi Games, finishing in fourth, but the Flying Tomato hit high marks at PyeongChang in 2018 to win the gold.
White, 35, began his first of three runs with a rocky landing, but performed his signature move, the Double McTwist 1260, in a flawless execution that wasn’t as technically difficult as the then leader, Australia’s Scotty James.
White tried to up his game with back-to-back double cork 1440s in his final run, but fell on the second landing, ending his Olympic career with a crash. He took fourth place after failing to best Japan’s 23-year-old phenom Ayumu Hirano, who landed the first triple cork of his career and at the Olympics to take gold.
After his final run, White teared up as the crowd cheered and he was embraced by fellow competitors, but said he wasn’t “upset about the result” of the event.
‘I’m so happy for Ayumu, to watch him nail that run. I would have loved to put it down. I made it happen for two runs and I couldn’t hold on for the last,” he commented. “It’s hard for me not get hung up on that last run, I wanted it so badly.”
White’s body wasn’t up to pushing the sport’s boundaries any further, as he has done historically for his last four Olympic appearances. The three-time gold medalist explained that he was having “difficulty” with his back leg and it had been “giving out” on him during every run.
“I’m proud of the runs I put down, I’m proud to be here for my last goodbye,” White continued. “Just missed the podium, I would have loved to walk out there with everyone, for one last time but you can’t always get what you want, you get what you need.”
We're not crying, you're crying.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 11, 2022