Pyeongchang: Shaun White stared down the half-pipe before his final Olympic run and had no doubt what would happen next.
“I honestly knew I had it,” White said. “I knew I had to put it down.”
Put it down he did, soaring and spinning Wednesday through a half-dozen near flawless tricks — including back-to-back 1440s for the first time in his life — en route to his record third half-pipe gold medal.
White won with a score of 97.75 and wept at the bottom of the half-pipe. It marked White’s return to the top of the sport after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Games.
White’s gold was also the 100th overall for the United States in the Winter Olympics — all four American golds this year have been won by snowboarders.
Within minutes of winning a landmark third Olympic gold with a stunning performance, White was looking to the future.
The American will be 35 by the time the next Winter Olympics is held in Beijing in 2022 but his focus is on a closer goal.
He wants to go to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 to compete in skateboarding, which will be making its Olympic debut in Japan.
White’s belief that he can challenge the world’s best skateboarders in Tokyo is not as outlandish as it might sound at first.
As his snowboarding career was taking off, White was also competing as a professional skateboarder, winning Vert gold at the 2007 X Games, a year after his first Olympic gold in the half-pipe.
In doing so, he became the first man to compete in and win gold medals at both the summer and winter X Games.
“I am excited about it, the motivation will be there, it is something new, less gear, new competitors,” White told reporters after the half-pipe final.
“It is like this muscle memory as many of the tricks here are similar to skateboarding, just a translation into a smaller board and not being strapped in.” If White wins a skateboarding medal in Tokyo, he would become only the sixth person to claim medals at both winter and summer Games. The most recent athlete to do so was American Lauryn Williams, in sprinting and bobsleigh.
White will be able to rely on his long-time friend and mentor Tony Hawk for encouragement.
Hawk, widely regarded as the greatest skateboarder in history and a pioneer for many of the tricks in the sport, first met White when he was nine years old.
“Tony, thank you for being such a great inspiration for me and such a good role model for me to look up to. He told me to come win this thing and then sail off into the sunset and never touch a snowboard again,” White said.
“I hope he wishes me luck because I think I am going to go on to skateboarding.”
Whatever White decides to do it would take a brave person to bet against an athlete whose competitive fire runs deeper than most.
Country G S B Total
Germany 7 2 3 12
Netherlands 5 4 2 11
USA 4 1 2 7
Norway 3 5 3 11
Canada 3 4 3 10
France 2 1 2 5
Austria 2 1 1 4
Sweden 2 1 0 3
Italy 1 1 1 3
S Korea 1 0 1 2