White adds a McTwist to his gold-medal ending

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    McClatchy-Tribune News Service | Boulder Weekly

    WEST VANCOUVER, British ColumbiaShaun White would have won the gold medal without his most daring trick, the Double
    McTwist 1260. But the American snowboarder had to do it.

    “I just felt like I didn’t come all the way to
    Vancouver not to pull out the big guns,” White said. “I put down the
    tricks I’ve worked so hard on. It was the savvy thing to do. Saucy.
    Keep it weird.”

    White replaced the Double McTwist 1260 with a safer
    backside 900 on his first run and still scored a 46.8 out of 50, which
    was good enough for gold in the halfpipe. But he wanted more, and he
    got it on his “Victory Lap” with one of the most memorable individual
    performances in Winter Olympic history and a score of 48.4 from the
    judges.

    “I wanted a Victory Lap that would be remembered,” White said. “I guess I achieved that.”

    White’s gold and Scott Lago’s bronze in the halfpipe capped off a history-making day for their
    country. Until Wednesday, the U.S. had never won six medals in a single
    day at a Winter Games.

    “It’s history, man,” White said. “Shake and bake.”

    Snowboarding has come a long way in the four years since White won in Turin with back-to-back 1080-degree jumps. With the halfpipe now at 22 feet, riders can perform even bigger tricks.

    And no one in snowboarding is bigger than White, one of the biggest stars at these Olympics.

    “He’s pushed the sport further and faster,” Bud Keene, White’s coach, said.

    Red Bull, one of White’s primary sponsors, built White his own private halfpipe last year. Project X, as its known, is in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and comes complete with foam padding for soft landings.

    In January in Park City, Utah,
    White unveiled the Double McTwist 1260. The trick, which involves 31/2
    twists and two flips, has left White with an injured ankle and nearly a
    broken jaw.

    He broke more boards than bones while perfecting the
    sport’s most difficult trick, which White has nicknamed “The Tomahawk.”
    Keene estimates White now has successfully landed a trick 25 times.

    “He is very brave, of course, but he’s also very
    good,” Keene said. “It was something he developed because he was
    feeling challenged by some other riders in the world, particularly some
    American riders. He wanted to go into the Olympics with the ability to
    win the contest hands down. He felt that the Double McTwist 1260 was
    the ace in the hole.

    “As it was, he didn’t actually need it, but he did it anyway.”

    White had won four of five Olympic qualifiers, and
    he won the X Games in January an hour after a horrific practice crash.
    He showed again Wednesday that when he is at his best, no one can touch
    him.

    “Tonight, I basically pulled out all the stops on
    the last run and did something that’s never really been done before,”
    White said.

    Waiting might have been the hardest part for White.

    Riders get two trips down the chute in the halfpipe
    final, with only their best score counting. So, after his first run,
    White had to bide his time as the other 11 finalists took their second
    runs.

    “There was a massive gap in the points,” White said.
    “I was standing on top, feeling confident, but I didn’t want the
    celebration to kick in.”

    The celebration began when Lago fell on his second
    run, leaving no one else standing. White consulted with Keene, who
    encouraged White to go for it.

    White had wanted to do the Double McTwist 1260 on his first run, but he knew he probably didn’t need it to win. He was right.

    But he wanted to give the raucous Cypress Mountain
    crowd of 4,400 what they came to see. After he completed his second
    run, White threw his board in the air.

    So what’s next?

    “I don’t know,” White said. “Sleep, and then take on the world.”

    White, 23, has yet to realize he’s already done that.

    (c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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