American great Shaun White sensationally snatched halfpipe gold, denying Japanese teenager Ayumu Hirano with a superb final run in Pyeongchang.
Hirano had landed back-to-back 1440s in his second attempt to overtake White with a score of 95.25. But with the pressure on, 31-year-old White delivered a faultless 97.75 to secure his third Olympic halfpipe gold.
“I was so overwhelmed with happiness. I’ve been through so much to get here,” said a tearful White. “Waiting for my final score was awful and amazing at the same time. I knew I did a great ride and I was proud of that and I could walk away with my head high.”
White becomes the first snowboarder to win three Olympic titles.
It was also the United States’ 100th gold in Winter Olympic history – only Norway with 121 have more – and their fourth in snowboarding in Pyeongchang. White, known as ‘Flying Tomato’ because of his red hair, had overcome two heavy crashes in training in the build-up to the Games.
He had 62 stitches in a face wound suffered in a crash in New Zealand in October after injuring his shoulder the previous month.
However, he showed he was back to his best with only the second perfect score of 100 in history in January’s US Grand Prix. “I actually did the same trick that injured me here in the halfpipe today,” added White.
“Honestly it’s one of the most challenging runs I’ve ever done. I didn’t even link the combination, the back-to-back 1440s until I got here, today, this morning.”