Iouri Podladtchikov dethrones White in breathtaking Olympic halfpipe final
The third snowboard event of the XXII Olympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia, provided a memorable night at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park when the men's epic and nail-biting halfpipe finals, which pushed the halfpipe riding to new limits, finished with an unexpected and also historic result.
It was the first time ever, that the so far leading halfpipe nation USA came away empty-handed while Russian born Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov claimed the second ever Olympic halfpipe Gold medal for his home country since Gian Simmen had secured Gold in Nagano 1998.
Japanese riders Ayumu Hirano, the youngest Olympic medalist in snow events with 15 years and 74 days as well as 18-year-old Taku Hiraoka rounded out the podium as second and third thus making the land of the rising sun proud with the first ever Olympic snowboard medals.
But it was the three-time Olympian who shone out bright.
'iPod', who had competed for Russia in 2006 (Torino, 37th) before placing fourth for Switzerland in 2010 (Vancouver), nailed an astonishing five-hit run consisting of a huge backside air to frontside 540, double mc twist, frontside 1080 and a super clean cab double cork 1440 his so-called signature trick Yolo flip (acronym for you only live once) to finish things off.
The reigning FIS Snowboard World Champion, who had to take the detour through the semi finals after getting slowly into the contest, earned 94.75 for his killer run and thus set the bar to high for the rest of the 12-head pack.
"It's hot, cool and it's fucking mine," Podladtchikov exclaimed after the finals, using a play on words of the "hot, cool, yours" motto at Sochi 2014.
"My mindset was definitely to go for it. I mean, going for whatever. I kinda got a low score in my first run. I thought, 'I could do this.
I feel more alive than ever. It's beautiful to hear people cheering in my mother language. It's insane. Shaun [WHITE] was the first to congratulate me; we're friends now."
Japanese wunderkind Hirano, who was sitting in first after run one of the finals, came close with 93.50 for his second run but couldn't edge off the 25-year-old from Zurich.
And also 2013 World Champs Silver medalist Hiraoka couldn't get higher than 92.25.
Two-time Olympic Champion Shaun White (USA) who was the odds-on favourite for another title after impressively dominating the qualifiers missed out the podium as fourth (90.25) after slamming in his first run and having quite some problems in his second which was also the final run.
However, the dethroned champion showed some greatness in defeat hugging his legal successor although he was truly disappointed with his result. “I hate the fact that I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It's hard to be consistent,” he said. "Tonight was just not my time."
Full results can be viewed here.