KGOU

Shaun White Wins Third Gold Medal

Feb 14, 2018
Originally published on February 15, 2018 11:06 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There is a familiar name back on top in the sport of snowboard halfpipe. Shaun White put on an amazing performance last night and claimed his third Olympic gold medal. His win came as new questions, though, emerged about sexual harassment allegations against him. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman reporting from Pyeongchang.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Thirty-one-year-old Shaun White won a halfpipe gold medal at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics, but he finished fourth in an uh-oh-he-might-be-slipping performance in 2014. Today, no slipping.

(APPLAUSE)

GOLDMAN: There was plenty of breathtaking soaring, twisting and flipping as White shot up the sides of the pipe into the air on a gold-medal-winning final run.

(SOUNBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SHAUN WHITE: I'm so proud to say that I've kind of, like, found the love of the sport again. And I was able to stand up there and deliver the performance that I knew I could.

GOLDMAN: White led the competition but then dropped to second behind 19-year-old Ayumu Hirano of Japan. On the third and final run, Hirano fell and White knew the gold was his if he uncorked a great one. In fact, he uncorked two double corked 1440s - those are difficult and dangerous four-revolution tricks. They were a calculated risk considering he was injured late last year doing the same moves. Shaun White may be the king of the halfpipe again but, this time around, there's taint on his crown. Last year, White and a woman settled a case in which she alleged sexual harassment. Today, at a post-victory press conference, White called the allegations gossip and said he didn't think they tainted his legacy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WHITE: I am who I am. And I'm and I'm proud of who I am. And my friends love me and vouch for me. And I think that stands on its own, so.

GOLDMAN: The halfpipe competition at the outdoor Phoenix Snow Park was a raging success for the excitement and the mere fact that it actually happened. Alpine skiing has had a tough time so far, and that continued today. Officials postponed the ladies slalom because of dangerous winds. Three of the first 4 alpine events now have been postponed. Fans streamed out of Yongpyong Alpine Centre without getting to see the debut here of U.S. alpine star Mikaela Shiffrin or the other 82 women on the start list. Chad Harp from Portland, Ore., was disappointed but understanding.

CHAD HARP: I mean, it's unfortunate but safety first, you know, plain and simple. We watched the women's slopestyle contest go on when it, arguably, probably shouldn't have gone on. These people have been training for their whole life, often times, for this event. So don't get injured at your peak.

GOLDMAN: Today's postponement sets up a busy next couple of days for alpiners. Thursday and Friday will each have two rescheduled events. Jenny Wiedeke is with skiing's international governing body, FIS. She's hopeful today's slalom delay is the last.

JENNY WIEDEKE: Everything we've seen for the weather forecast for the next 5 days is extremely favorable. So, apparently, it's like a magic switch. It goes on and off. And the wind machine, hopefully, will be turned off.

GOLDMAN: As of late today, the magic switch was still on. Reporters were getting wind alerts texted to their phones. Olympic organizers released a statement encouraging spectators to stay indoors and temporarily suspending all activities at an Olympic Park.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, Pyeongchang. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.