Eurosport - Thu, 28 Jan 08:12:00 2010
The fear of losing trumped fear of injury for Shaun White after the Olympic champion snowboarder inserted a dangerous trick he had never tried before in competition to win last week's Park City grand prix.
Stung by a rare halfpipe defeat the week before, White tried what he called a "Double McTwist 1260".
When he was through with the double backward flip with three and a half revolutions into a blind landing, judges gave him an amazing 49.5 points from a possible 50.
"It's a pretty heavy thing that happens to me when I'm at competitions," White said. "I get so sucked in, I can't really turn it off."
White said he had only a fleeting wave of nerves thinking about fellow-American snowboarder Kevin Pearce, lying in a Salt Lake City hospital after hitting his head while practicing on the halfpipe a month ago.
"To be honest, I was pretty nervous," 23-year-old White said after practice for this weekend's Winter X Games.
"There was a friend of ours, Kevin Pearce, that unfortunately got knocked out in one of his practice runs and I know it's kind of weighing on all of us.
"You have a good friend that's close to you and something like this happens to them, you can't help but think about them while you're up there."
White said danger was always in the air at the halfpipe.
"It's always in the back of your mind. Usually you try to put it way back there so you don't think about it," he added.
"When you go up and you ride, you kind of have to have this (conviction) you know you're going to land. There isn't another option.
"When you think about it, we're strapping strange planks of wood to our feet and launching off of giant snow walls. It's pretty intense."
White said he had practiced the new trick at a halfpipe built for him by his sponsor Red Bull in a secluded spot on Silverton Mountain in Colorado.
"I need a helicopter and snowmobile to get there," he said.
"It's been a once in a lifetime opportunity halfpipe, and I got a foam pit and you can see what happens. I was able to invent four or five new tricks."
The elaborate McTwist was his hardest trick yet, he said.
"I really didn't want to do it because it's pretty scary. It's a pretty intimidating trick because you have to commit so much right off the bat. I don't think I was too ready to do it. The competition just kind of made me do it."
The trick has already been done, but White's version comes in the way he takes off.
"I take off with the front foot," he said. "Everybody else takes off from the back foot."
White said launching himself that way makes him come out of flips with his back to the bottom instead of seeing the landing in front of him.
"The whole thing is pretty blind. I can only see the landing at the very end. That's why it's such an intimidating trick.
"A run like this, it's somewhat manageable but still on the edge of kind of out of control, which is sweet."
White would not commit to using the new trick at the Vancouver Games, yet said he intended to dub it with more flair just in case.
"We need a cooler name," he said. "Like, 'The White Snake', or something rad like that. Or the 'Double Eagle'".
He is also tired of his old nickname, The Flying Tomato -- a reference to his long, red hair.
"Chairman of the Boards," he said, suggesting a new title.