'I-Pod' stuns White to win halfpipe gold
By Nick Mulvenney
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Iouri "I-Pod" Podladtchikov nailed the run of a lifetime to win the halfpipe gold for Switzerland at the Sochi Games on Tuesday and bring a stunning end to Shaun White's eight-year reign as Olympic champion.
One of the only riders who can match American White in the complexity of his tricks, the Russian-born Podladtchikov put together an electrifying display under the lights at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
A score of 94.75 proved enough to see off a pair of daredevil Japanese teenagers as well as overwhelming favorite White's challenge for a third successive gold medal.
"I feel like fainting. Everything came together exactly the way I planned," Podladtchikov told reporters.
"On this run, it felt like it was all meant to be and I was this position where I'm throwing down my hardest tricks with ease, there's no words for that."
Fifteen-year-old Ayumu Hirano took silver with 93.50 to become the youngest Olympic medalist on snow, pipping his 18-year-old compatriot Taku Hiraoka, who grabbed bronze with 92.25.
White, one of the biggest names in winter sports, finished fourth after remarkably dropping two tricks on his first run and only managing 90.25 following a couple of stumbles on his second.
After days of controversy about the quality of the pipe, which only intensified when the warm weather turned some of the packed snow to slush, a packed house was treated to just over an hour of dizzying acrobatics and thrilling drama. Continued...