US snowboarding star Shaun White feels ‘relieved’ after making halfpipe final at Beijing Olympics
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — After crashing on his first attempt on Wednesday, Shaun White completed a halfpipe qualifying run under pressure to advance to the medal round of his fifth and final Olympic Games.
The three-time gold medalist fell on his signature trick on his first run – the Double McTwist 1260 – and got stuck in 19th place. Each runner gets two tries and only their best score counts. The top 12 advance to Friday’s final. Blanc finished in fourth place.
After waiting 50 minutes after his fall, White returned to the top of the pipe and landed the same run he had tried before.
He stomped on every landing and basically ripped off his glasses and let out a “Yeahhhh”. He qualified behind two-time silver medalist Ayumu Hirano, 2018 bronze medalist Scotty James and Hirano’s Japanese teammate Ruka Hirano.
“I can’t tell you the relief I felt after that last blow,” White said. “It was just the thrill and the excitement of going to the final.”
White’s big save prevented another setback in what became a tough Olympics on the mountain for the United States. A few hours earlier, Mikaela Shiffrin skidded from her slalom run and made it 0 for 2 on the alpine hill. Reigning slopestyle champions Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard failed to make the podium this time.
White came to Beijing after battling COVID-19, an ankle injury, a longer-than-expected run to Olympic qualifying and a number of changes to his training schedule. But he arrived in China with cautious optimism.
He is not considered a favorite and said he has a race he wants to enter. Thanks to his clutch race in qualifying, he will have this chance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.