Sean White had a front row seat on what he could do to the next generation after pushing the boundaries of snowboarding for more than a decade.
In White’s farewell performance on Friday, Japan’s Ayomo Hirano won the Olympic gold medal by pushing the boundary in the half-pipe and running his own race in the final.
After Hirano’s electrical performance as the last rider, there was no doubt about the winner. His race involved a complex and unparalleled series of twists and turns that fueled his passion for taking a game to new heights. Hirano’s score of 96 reflected this, surpassing two-time Olympic silver medalist Scotty James of Australia, whose highest score in the three-run final was 92.50.
John Shearer of Switzerland won the bronze medal.
White finished fourth when he fell on the last run of his career, which saw the American star win three Olympic titles. He picked up his glasses and waved at the crowd as he went down the half-pipe. He was crying when the 35-year-old mob said goodbye to the 35-year-old and fellow riders lined up to hug him.
“It’s just an emotional day for me,” White said. “I wish I could do better, but I did what I could.” I’m proud. “
After the second run, the stage was being set for some controversy. James took the lead with his second attempt, scoring 92.50. Hirano saw you follow the run with a triple cork, one of the newest and most difficult tricks in the half pipe right now. But the judges gave it 91.75, which was encouraged by the crowd and echoed on social media.
NBC Snowboard analyst Todd Richards said, “I know when I’ve seen the best race ever in the half-pipe. … To be completely honest with you is a deception. I’m angry. Yes, “said Todd Richards, an analyst at NBC Snowboard. “What’s the use of doing a triple cork, the most dangerous of these dangerous tricks if you don’t get a reward?”
Hirano, 23, went out and did an even better version of his race. This time, he was rewarded.
“Justice,” Richards said.
Taylor Gold of the United States, who was ranked first, was ranked fifth.
The competition was a surprise. But even that moment was an opportunity for White to call a game so long that he has been hovering over it for so long. He said before the start of the Beijing Games that it would be his last resort. White’s resume speaks for itself: Olympic gold in ’06 and its defense four years later. He also succeeded in ’18, where he left the 1440s behind to stop Hirano for the first time in his life.
This has been a difficult lead for White, who has been slowed down by COVID-19 positive tests, injuries and training issues. But he looked his best – even under pressure – when he qualified for the final on his last run on Wednesday.
White took it to the final and on his second run performed his patented double make twist 1260 and then finally the front side 1260.
“Sean White’s legacy speaks for itself,” said James, who wore his patented red boxing glove mattens to the final (he sees the competition as a boxing match). “He is an incredible competitor and I think he is highly respected globally as a player.”