No medal for Shaun White in men's halfpipe final
Shaun White of the USA competes in the men'[s halfpipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. White finished fourth.
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Shaun White arrived in Sochi trying to win two gold medals. He leaves with none.
White finished fourth in the men's halftime competition Tuesday night at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, ending his reign as Olympic champion dating to the 2006 Games in Turin.
The new halfpipe king is Iouri Podladtchikov, a Swiss rider with the biggest tricks in snowboarding, who received a score of 94.75 on his second run. Even though six competitors had yet to take their second runs, Podladtchikov threw his board and ran to hug some fans standing along the fence.
White, the last rider to go, couldn't match it as he had two bobbles on his final run to finish out of the medals for the first time in his three appearances at the Olympics.
"I think it's great the American public and the world now knows that there are other snowboarders besides Shaun White," U.S. rider Danny Davis said. "Shaun's, don't get me wrong, one of the most talented, one of the best riders there are, but there are guys who are just as good if not better and today Iouri was the best rider."
Japanese riders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won the silver and bronze.
White fell twice on his first run in finals – the first was a minor butt check, the second was a harder crash when he landed his backside on the top edge of the pipe. His score of 35.00 on that run put him in 11th place out of 12 riders heading into the final run of the competition.
White was trying to become the first American man to win the same events in three consecutive Winter Games. Speedskater Shani Davis will attempt to do in in the 1000 on Wednesday.
Perhaps it was a fitting ending to the Games for White after nearly a week of controversy. White pulled out of the slopestyle competition less than 48 hours before qualifying, prompting rival riders to suggest White may have been scared to lose. White withdrew from the event too late for the United States to replace him.
In White's absence, American Sage Kotsenburg won the first-ever slopestyle gold and became the first breakout star of the Games.
When attention turned to the halfpipe by Sunday evening, riders were furious about the conditions of the pipe, from walls that were too vertical, to a flat bottom that on Monday was so bumpy that it riders said it resembled a moguls course.
The pipe was improved for Tuesday's competition, but not perfect, and the final session was sloppy as the best riders pulled out their best tricks. Several riders wiped out multiple times, including Americans Greg Bretz and Davis, each of whom failed to land a clean run in the finals. Davis finished 10th and Bretz 12th.