Shaun White erects a memorial in his honour
Veni, vidi, vici! US snowboarder Shaun White has answered expectations of the world in front of the world. The declared top bet for the Olympic Gold in the halfpipe contest staged at Cypress Mountain successfully kept hold to his 2006 earned title by thrilling crowd and judges alike in Wednesday's night finals.
After he had been leading the pack of the top 12 riders after the first run with a score of 46.8 points, he nailed a victory lap to remember scoring 48.4 points. Finland's Peetu Piiroinen (45.0) and Scotty Lago (42.8) from the US of A rounded out the podium as second and third respectively in front of some 4,500 spectators in the stands. Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov missed the podium by only 0.4 points thus being forced to settle with fourth in one of the most exciting medal event of this Winter Olympics.
Long-time training does pay off
The undisputed winner, who had brought super star status to the Vancouver Winter Olympics - together with his fellow country woman skiing icon Lindsey Vonn - had done everything to win his second Olympics which he called "incomparable with every other contest in the world" finally earning the reward for the hard work.
Love it or hate it, but being able to train in his private Silverton halfpipe built by sponsors, only accessible with helicopter, gave White the chance to prepare a run to remember also raising the bar for halfpipe riding by inventing new tricks like double cork 10's and the double mctwist 12 which he revealed only a few weeks prior the major event.
After the rider from California had sticked something which could be described as a safety run - regarding to his skills - which consisted of backside air, frontside double cork 10, cab double cork 10, frontside 5 stalefish and a backside 9 to finish things off, he posted an incredible victory lap.
Unlike in 2006, White, who had skipped the last training session, stepped it up by throwing in an outstanding show run. Starting with a backside air to back-to-back double corks and a frontside 5 stalefish he changed his last trick to the double mctwist 12 thus not only becoming the first ever two time Olympic halfpipe Gold medallist (the third snowboarder ever to repeat an Olympic title) but also rewriting history with the most technical run ever to be seen at the Winter Games. "I can't even describe it. It's just wild," he said into the TV camera.
Piiroinen best European
Peetu Piiroinen came out as best European rider. The Finnish ripper, who seemed to be the one rider with a chance to beat Shaun, put together two clean runs but just didn't get big enough to edge of the dominating rider from the States, who had pointed the way to glory in the qualifiers already by coming out as number one.
Peetu showcased a frontside 720 to cab double cork 10, frontside air, backside 9 and a frontside 1080 in a halfpipe which had been in super shape for the finals due to the hard work of Steve Petrie and the Arena Snowparks crew who had to fight the warm weather over the past days constantly improving the pipe day by day.
Scotty Lago comes out as surprising third
While Piiroinen, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday only two days ago, became the fourth European male rider on the Olympic halfpipe podium, Scotty Lago continued the traditionally strong performance of the US rooster at Winter Games although top shredders Kevin Pearce and Danny Davis missed Vancouver 2010 due to serious injuries.
Underdog Scotty Lago took the chance of a lifetime by sticking a run which he never landed before, a run which finally earned him the Bronze medal: method air to frontside 10, cab double cork 10, frontside 540, inverted backside 9.
In addition, his team mate Louie Vito, who finished fifth, can - although missing to fulfil his dream of a medal -call himself the first one to ever land back-to-back double corks in the Olympics.
Japanese team beaten
While the US team once again played the main role in the halfpipe competition, Japan's high rollers were once again the beaten ones. Neither Ryoh Aono and his kamikaze style nor Kazuhiro Kokubo was able to post clean runs. However, at least Kokubo provided an Olympic first, even though a doubtful one.
As the 21-year-old violated his home countries' dress code by loosen the tie a little bit and refusing to tuck the shirt in he caused a "small scandal". Therefore the Japanese Federation banned Kokubo from the opening ceremony but didn't kick him out of the team, a penalty which also had been considered.