February 17, 2010
It felt like the world had come to watch Shaun White on Cypress Mount – and he didn’t disappoint.
The 23-year-old with the flowing flame-coloured hair was one of the most recognisable athletes at Vancouver 2010. In fact, because of him, the halfpipe was the most-watched TV event of the entire Olympic Winter Games.
White was the reigning Olympic champion, the world record holder, the friend of the stars and the man with a computer game named after him.
He also had a remarkable back story, having been born with a life-threatening condition that required open heart surgery as a baby.
Despite having also turned pro as a skateboarder, the American became the most recognisable snowboarder on the planet, earning an incredible $9million in 2009 alone.
His first run in Vancouver featured back-to-back double corks with double grabs and was so good that he wouldn’t even have needed to go out again to win gold.
Of course he did – and gave the crowd a performance to remember. Despite his flamboyant rock star appearance, White was always precise and dedicated out on the snow.
“I didn’t come all the way to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns.”
He finished a superb run with his trademark double McTwist 1260 – performing two flips while doing three-and-a-half twists. It improved his score from 46.8 out of 50 to 48.4.
“I didn’t come all the way to Vancouver not to pull out the big guns,” he later joked.
Peetu Piiroinen of Finland was second and Scott Lago of America third, although they were really a world away from the winner.
Vancouver marked the high point of White’s career so far, although he will be gunning for gold in PyeongChang, having failed to win a medal in Sochi.