Shaun White: USA snowboard star claims third Olympic title with outstanding final run
Shaun White won his third Olympic halfpipe title in dramatic circumstances with a phenomenal final run of 97.75 in PyeongChang.
The American superstar, 31, trailed Japan's Ayumu Hirano with his score of 95.25 after White fell on his second run, but the 13-time X-Games champion went all out on his final run to add to his two Olympic successes in Turin and Vancouver.
It was later confirmed that White's victory marked a century of gold medals for Team USA at the Winter Olympics.
White started the competition with great confidence, having come through qualifying with a near perfect score of 98.50, and he continued to set the benchmark high for his rivals as he led after the first run by posting a 94.25 effort that included jumps as high as five and-a-half metres with added technical difficulty.
There was a look of relief on White's face after that run, which is understandable considering he crashed out twice on his first run in Sochi four years ago when he was aiming for a historic three straight titles in the same event, but ultimately fell short of the podium in fourth place.
"To win an Olympic gold medal, my third medal at my fourth Olympics, I'm just beside myself. It's been a long journey to get to this point," White told Eurosport.
Widely regarded as one of America's biggest sporting stars, he won his first Olympic medal on his Games debut as a 19 year-old for Team USA in 2006 before repeating the feat in Canada four years later.
White, who needed 62 stitches after a crash during his preparation for PyeongChang in October last year, went too big on his second run as he touched down on an uneven landing to score 55.00.
"I got to New Zealand and I had a really bad accident and split my face open," White said.
"I had the fear of getting back out there, doing the tricks again and it's not an easy thing. I had to get my mind ready and to come through that was really hard."
His fall in the second run allowed Japanese teenager Hirano to take the lead with an run that featured impressive back-to-back 1440's, but White would not be denied his chance to complete an Olympic hat trick.
Just like in the qualifying round, White's final run had everything - speed, height, difficulty and accuracy and the judges duly rewarded him for taking the risk as he regained the top spot on the Olympic podium and wrote his name in the history books as the first three-time Olympic snowboarding champion.
"I did the same trick that I fell on but I won the gold medal and it was all worth it. I'm so pleased," White said.
Australia's Scott James completed the medal line-up with a respectable 92.00 score for bronze.