Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White will have a chance to defend his PyeongChang halfpipe title after advancing Wednesday out of the 2022 Games’ qualifying round, clinching the No. 4 spot on a suspenseful second run.
White under-rotated one of his signature double McTwist 1260s during his opener but came back to triumphantly stomp the trick in Run 2, also landing both frontside and cab double cork 1080s, a sky hook and a front double 1260 to score an 86.25.
“I am just so happy I put that last run down,” White said. “Feeling incredible. You gotta fight for it if you wanna get into finals, and I did, so I’m very happy.
“I was feeling that first run, everything was clicking, and I think I just took that little relaxed approach to that last hit and next thing I know I was sliding on my back thinking, what happened?”
Asked whether he’ll unleash a triple cork in the final, White kept his cards close to his chest but said he’s going to throw everything he has and see what happens.
“You know, we don’t know yet, I’ve been eyeing it,” he said. “Been feeling this halfpipe, such a great venue they did such an amazing job. Honestly just so happy to be here and finals, we’ll see. If there’s a time to do it, that’ll be it.”
The 35-year-old, a five-time Olympian, is now the oldest-ever men’s rider to compete in the Olympic event’s history. He won back-to-back golds at his first two Winter Games in Torino and Vancouver, before claiming a third in 2018 by landing back-to-back double cork 1440s on his final run.
The snowboarding icon told TODAY last month that the 2022 Olympics would likely be his “last run,” then confirmed the decision at a pre-Games press conference earlier this week. He said he realized it was time during a surreal moment while alone on a chairlift watching the sun go down.
Japanese trio Ayumu Hirano, Ruka Hirano and Yuto Totsuka placed a respective first, third and sixth overall, while Scotty James of Australia took second. Ayumu Hirano landed five tricks with 1080 degrees of rotation or more on Run 2 to score a 93.25.
SEE MORE: Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifying