Winter Olympics: Shaun White misses out on podium to end snowboarding career

Zhangjiakou, China – Snowboarder Ayumu Hirano won gold in the men's halfpipe at the Beijing Winter Olympics after posting a score of 96.00 in his third run on Friday, while US superstar Shaun White missed out on the podium in his last-ever competition.

A composite photo shows Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano performing a triple cork 1440 during the men's halfpipe final.
A composite photo shows Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano performing a triple cork 1440 during the men's halfpipe final.  © IMAGO / Kyodo News

Hirano, who won silver in PyeongChang and Sochi, saved his best for last, overtaking Scotty James's 92.50 with a breathtaking last run at Genting Snow Park.

Australia's James still achieved a silver, bettering his bronze in PyeongChang.

"I'm honestly really proud, obviously so much work goes into this and Ayumu is an amazing competitor, and we have a good rivalry. I knew I had to deliver my best and get my best shot in the end there and unfortunately I came unstuck," James said of his second place.

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"But I was really happy and proud on my second run. It's the most technical run I've ever done in my life... I was super happy that put me on the podium."

The Beijing bronze went to Switzerland's Jan Scherrer with a score of 87.25.

Shaun White ends legendary snowboarding career

Legendary US snowboarder Shaun White has said he will retire after the Beijing Winter Games.
Legendary US snowboarder Shaun White has said he will retire after the Beijing Winter Games.  © Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Press & IMAGO / Kyodo News

White, a three-time gold medalist, sitting in fourth with a best score of 85.00 before his final run, had a chance to overtake Scherrer, but could not land his second trick, missing out on a fairy tale ending to his storied career.

The 35-year-old American last week announced that he would retire after the Beijing Winter Games.

"I wish I could have landed my last run, but I was having some difficulty in my back leg for some reason," White said. "Maybe it was the pressure, maybe it was just exhaustion."

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"Snowboarding, thank you. It's been the love of my life," the snowboarding legend went on. "It's been a journey. I can't wait to see where this sport goes."

White ruled the sport like no one before, winning halfpipe gold in 2006, 2010 and 2018, and coming fourth in 2014.

He was lately plagued by an ankle injury and a coronavirus infection, and only barely qualified for Beijing.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Press & IMAGO / Kyodo News

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