The Flying Tomato crashed hard.
Shaun White entered the Sochi games primed to be the first American to win gold at three straight Winter Olympics. He’ll leave Russia without any new hardware.
Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov landed a 1440 jump on the halfpipe that White couldn’t on Tuesday. In fact, the red-headed snowboarder crashed in an attempt of the difficult trick. His struggles left him off the podium and in fourth place. Podladtchikov claimed the gold, and Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraokas took silver and bronze home to Japan. Sochi marks the first time since the introduction of the halfpipe event at the 1998 Nagano games that an American didn’t medal.
White’s role as a transcendent figure in the sport, and senior-citizen status at 27, has left him a marked man among his snowboarding peers, many of whom believe White doesn’t regard them as peers. When White withdrew from the slopestyle event citing safety concerns, Canadian Maxence Parrot called White “scared.” He accused White of selfishness: “To take an American spot away from another one of the guys, some American is probably today, probably sitting at home angry.”
Clearly, by leaving Sochi empty-handed, the celebrity snowboarder’s all-eggs-in-the-halfpipe strategy backfired.