Shaun White Wins Silver In Halfpipe At The Winter Olympics

Shaun White of the U.S. warms up ahead of the men's final in the snowboard halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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The U.S. team is hoping to add another gold medal in Snowboarding at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But Shaun White settled for silver in the halfpipe, and Japan's Ayumu Hirano won gold on the strength of a phenomenal second run.

Held one day after American Chloe Kim dominated the women's halfpipe, the men's final was a duel between White, Hirano, and Australia's Scotty James — who came out strong on his first run, scoring a 92.

White stepped up next with an incredible array of tricks, height and precision, soaring above the halfpipe and landing cleanly. The judges rewarded him with a 94.25 — and that wound up being his best score of the day, after a stumble marred his second and final run.

White began celebrating immediately, ripping his helmet off and throwing it, his arms raised above his head.

Hirano, who's just 19, turned in a fantastic final run, getting 18 feet above the rim of the halfpipe and landing his tricks cleanly. He had placed third in qualifying. With that run, he staked a claim to the podium, with a score of 95.25. It was an impressive comeback for Hirano, who had fallen on his first run and earned only 35.25 points — leaving him in 10th place midway through.

 

After the Japanese snowboarder's rousing run, the pressure shifted to James and White. James seemed to take a very deep breath before he set off. The first part of his run was great — but he couldn't get a clean landing on one of his final tricks. White came out with energy and speed — but he fell midway through, and mustered only 55 points to leave his first run as his best score.

A scary moment came early in the final run, when Japanese snowboarder Yuto Totsuka fell badly. For several minutes, the crowd looked on as a medical crew attended to him. Totsuka could be seen sitting up – but he was taken from the course on a stretcher sled and taken to the medical center.

White missed out on a medal back in 2014, when he was hurt at the Sochi Games. If he won big today, he would have become the only snowboarder ever to win three gold medals at the Olympics.

White led a group of four American snowboarders who qualified for the finals of the men's halfpipe at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang; joining him were Ben Ferguson, Chase Josey, and Jake Pates.

Josey was in third place after the first run, when he earned an 87.75. He fell toward the end of his second run, preventing him from cementing his position. But his main threat for the spot, Raibu Katayama, cut his run short after landing awkwardly. Katayama had been flying: he soared more than 17 feet above the halfpipe's rim on one trick in his final run.

Pates put down a strong second run, rebounding from a fall in his first attempt. He anxiously awaited the scoring, eyes glued on the board that would tell him if he had earned a shot at the podium. Pates got an 82.25 — not enough for a medal, but a result that made him smile, all the same.

White set a high bar in qualifying, posting a high score of 98.5. It turned out he needed that score to go into the finals on top – he beat James by less than two points.

That gave White the advantage of dropping in last, knowing what he had to do to match his rivals. But in the end, he wasn't able to pull off a gold-medal performance to complete his strong comeback from the Sochi Games.