White's flop may give a lift to boarding

Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:13am EST
 
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By Nick Mulvenney

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - While much of America mourns the fallibility of one of its biggest Sochi medal hopes, there are more than a few snowboarders who view Shaun White's failure to win a third straight Olympic gold as a positive for the sport.

White has become the face of the X Games-inspired sports that have reinvigorated the Winter Olympics since he won halfpipe gold as a teenager in Turin and retained his title in Vancouver four years later.

Loved by sponsors, broadcasters and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for enabling them to tap into a younger demographic, White is a multi-million brand as well as one of the most gifted snowboarders of all time.

Tuesday's halfpipe final was supposed to mark his entry into the pantheon of Winter Olympic greats as the first from his young sport to win three golds in one individual event.

The sporting gods and Iouri "I-Pod" Podladtchikov had not read the script, though. White faltered to finish fourth while the swashbuckling Swiss nailed the run of a lifetime to saunter away with gold in the land of his birth.

White has said he aims to be back in South Korea in 2018 - "what else can I do?" - but his compatriot Danny Davis, for one, thought Tuesday's final was a timely reminder that snowboarding was not just about the one-time "flying tomato".

"I think it's good for snowboarding," said Davis, who fell twice to finish 10th. "The American public and the world now knows that there are other snowboarders beside Shaun White.

"I mean, Shaun is, don't get me wrong, one of the most talented, one of the best, riders there is. But there are guys who are just as good, if not better, and they deserve credit too."   Continued...

 
Shaun White of the U.S. walks away after failing to win a medal in the men's snowboard halfpipe qualification round at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson