In what could be the greatest halfpipe competition there’s ever been, legendary U.S. snowboarder Shaun White attempts to win a fourth gold Thursday while dropping in for the final runs of his career at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Competing in Tuesday’s qualifying, the 35-year-old became the oldest-ever men’s halfpipe competitor, under-rotating a signature double McTwist 1260 on his first run before triumphantly returning to stomp the trick in Run 2 and score an 86.25.
White enters his fifth Olympic final as the No. 4 qualifier behind Ayumu Hirano of Japan, Aussie Scotty James and Japan’s Ruka Hirano, and for the first time ever at the Games is not considered one of the favorites to win gold.
That distinction currently belongs to Ayumu Hirano, a two-time Olympic silver medalist; James, the 2018 bronze medalist; Japan’s Yuto Totsuka, the reigning world champion; and 2020 Youth Olympic gold medalist Ruka Hirano, who is not related to Ayumu.
The snowboarding icon told TODAY last month that this would likely be his “last run,” then confirmed the decision at a pre-Games presser. He said he realized it was time during a surreal moment while alone on a chairlift watching the sun go down.
White took more than three years off from competition following his victory in South Korea. He began the 2022 U.S. Olympic qualifying period just off the Aspen podium in fourth, then took eighth at Copper and seventh at Dew Tour before landing a third-place finish at January’s Laax Open to essentially seal his monumental fifth Games berth.