Shaun White working on back
White said Thursday that he is working on the tricks that Japan’s Ayumu Hirano used to win the Winter X Games last month. Hirano became the first person to string together back to back 1440s in what was widely regarded as the best show ever seen in a halfpipe.
“I’m excited to compete with him,” White said. “He’s really pushing it, and he did an amazing combination that I’m working on myself. I don’t think we’ve seen my best run.”
White’s best run, at least this season, came at Snowmass in an Olympic qualifier in January. White used one 1440, along with his patented double McTwist 1260, to win the contest with a maximum score of 100 one of the rare times that mark has ever been handed out.
It established him as the man to beat at the Olympics. But a short two weeks later came X Games, where Hirano strung together his back to back 1440s the first time that had ever been done in a competition and Scotty James finished a close second on a run that included three 1260s, including one in which he rides and spins backward into the wall to execute the double cork.
“To this point, it was the most progressive halfpipe contest we’d ever seen,” said JJ Thomas, the 2002 bronze medalist who coaches White.
White is in his fourth Olympics. Though he has two gold medals and is, far and away, the most recognizable figure in his sport, he concedes his fourth place finish in Sochi was a blow.
“It was a nice eye opener for me of what life’s really like,” he said. “The bubble is shattered, and what’s next? I was able to make that decision.”
The decision was to keep moving forward, upping the ante, and the risk, in order to return to the top. For White more than anyone, that means only one thing: winning the Olympics.
## ## And yet, for the second straight Olympics, he’ll come in not setting the bar, the way he did in 2010 with the double McTwist, but trying to duplicate tricks someone else has done.
Heading into 2014, Iouri Podladtchikov showed off his YOLO flip which was the first 1440 landed in competition then brought it into the Olympics, where he landed it and White did not.