Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flashback: Feb. 17, 2010

White’s golden night
Bob Mackin, QMI Agency

WEST VANCOUVER: Red skies at night, Shaun White's delight.

As the clear Wednesday afternoon sky above Cypress Mountain gave way to the most brilliant sunset since the 2010 Winter Olympics Games opened, the Turin 2006 halfpipe snowboarding champion known as “The Flying Tomato” continued to reinforce his reputation as the best in the sport with each run on the icy slope.

San Diego’s White satisfied his rock star-like following when he became the first in halfpipe to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. White scored a 48.4 in the final run on which he executed his signature Double McTwist 1260 move to the delight of the full grandstand, which included his parents.

“I can’t even tell you or begin to describe how many times I’ve gone over this run in my mind, gone over this competition in my head, imagined what it would be like. I can finally go to sleep now,” said 23-year-old White, who won a world cup test event on the same course last year.

“On this world stage why not deliver something spectacular? I felt like I came all the way to Canada, talked about this trick so much, blood sweat and tears, to land it and there it was.”

The win was even sweeter because White described this as the most challenging season of his career. He said he has crashed more than ever and felt more frustrated than before and “pushed myself as far as I can go.”

Despite being the superior entrant, White said he had to battle the course in soggy and foggy conditions at Cypress earlier in the week.

“It’s not easy to make a halfpipe with no snow in a tough season, and they delivered,” White said.” The halfpipe the first day was one of the worst halfpipes I’ve ridden in my life and it went from there to one of the best.”

Peetu Piiroinen of Finland won silver and American Scott Lago claimed bronze. Justin Lamoureux of Squamish, B.C., was the lone Canadian among the 12 finalists. He finished seventh.

(Postscript: This was perhaps the most memorable outdoor sporting event I covered during the Games. White did numerous broadcast interviews, including one with NBC's Jenna "Daughter of Dubya" Bush, before finally reaching us print reporters. His handler warned us he'd have time for only four questions because White needed to get to doping control for the post-competition urine sampling. White stayed more than 10 minutes and answered every question. Rarely have I seen an athlete speak so passionately about his sport. Hockey players should learn from White. Sad to report that the halfpipe on which White thrilled the world was demolished.)

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