Reuters - Sun, 28 Feb 22:18:00 2010
Shaun White delivered one of the most enduring moments of the Vancouver Games with a dangerous new halfpipe trick and proved that snowboarding is a welcome and lasting addition to the Olympics.
In a Games where the 'extreme' sports of snowboarding and ski cross more than held their own against the traditional events, White was truly in the vanguard.
Wearing snowboard clothes designed to look like well worn blue jeans and a plaid shirt, White twisted and flipped along the halfpipe to the roar of the crowd as he delivered a much-hyped new trick that he did not even need to do.
The Double McTwist 1260 had White flying through the air on a multiple twisting double backward flip ending in a blind landing, to earn the best score of the day of 48.4 points - even though he had already won the event after his first run.
"It's a world stage so why not deliver something spectacular," White said when asked why he tried the dangerous new trick though he did not need it to win.
"I felt like I came all the way to Canada, talked about all about my tricks and it took blood, sweat and tears to land it. There it was.
"I wanted a victory lap that would be remembered," said the red-haired man now appropriately nicknamed the 'Animal'.
Even White's competitors admitted he was in a class of his own, a perfectionist who would work to perfect his tricks on his own halfpipe tucked away in the Colorado mountains.
The women's halfpipe was nearly as thrilling as Australian Torah Bright went from last to first with a gutsy performance that won her country's first gold medal of the Games.
Bright, the only woman to have landed some of the sport's toughest tricks performed mainly by men, fell twice on her first run as she attempted to increase the degree of difficulty with a move that could ensure her a medal.
But she shook it off and tried again on the second run to land one of the hardest tricks done by a woman.
"It's not the end of the world that I fell. It happens. So I just kind of put it behind me," she said in typical snowboarder fashion. "I knew what I was going to do, I've done it all before so I just had to go and have some fun with it."
Thousands of fans who made it to Cypress Mountain - where snow had to be trucked in and brought in by helicopter after warm weather left the mountain nearly bare of snow - went wild at the snowboard cross events.
The crash-filled event, where four riders start off shoulder-to-shoulder and race down an icy slope filled with jumps and steep banked curves, was a crowd pleaser when Canadian Maelle Ricker won the women's gold.
The men's race went down to the wire as American Seth Wescott made a huge comeback in the last jump of the men's final to pass his Canadian rival and win gold.
Fans braved torrential rain on the last two days of competition in the parallel giant slalom where one last Canadian gold was won by Jasey Jay Anderson on Saturday.