Shaun White continued his dominance in the men’s snowboard superpipe Sunday, handily winning the Winter X Games event for the sixth-straight time.
The 26-year-old White’s closest competitor on the evening was Ayumu Hirano of Japan, who at 14 years old became the youngest athlete to win a Winter X Games medal. However, his top score of 92.33 out of 100 was well below White’s top score of 98. Markus Malin, 25, of Finland came in third with a top score of 91.33.
“Six years — that’s pretty heavy,” White said after the event. “ ... It’s a pretty humbling title to hold.”
White, of Carlsbad, Calif., was the last out of the field of seven to go on each of the three runs. He notched a 95 on his first run out with a combination of tricks that ended with a 16-foot-high backside double McTwist 1260 into an ally-oop backside rodeo. Both tricks incorporate backflips with spinning rotations.
White kicked off his second run with a 24-foot-high backside method air, which broke the previous record of 23 feet for biggest amplitude in the snowboard superpipe competition. The run included back-to-back double cork 1080s on the second and third hits; the trick requires a rider to perform two off-axis backflips while spinning three full rotations. White finished the run with a backside double McTwist 1260 into a frontside double cork 1260. The run earned the evening’s top score.
White said that landing the frontside double cork without touching the snow was the highlight of the night, and represented a progression for him.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia 13 months away, White said he will continue to perfect the runs that earned him his record-tieing sixth straight Winter X Games gold. He also said he has some new tricks up his sleeve which he is working on.
“A lot of the things I’m doing this season I hope are outdated” next year, he said.
At 26, White is now on the older end of the field, which he said he is using to his advantage.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more focused, more in tune with what I’m doing physically and mentally,” he said.
When asked what he needed to do to best White in the superpipe, Hirano, through a translator, gave a very direct answer.
“A double cork 12,” he said.
Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland and Russia, often White’s biggest rival in the superpipe, pulled out of the competition Sunday because he was not feeling well.
“It kind of bummed me out,” White said about his friend, known as “I-Pod,” sitting out the competition. “He’s a great rider. He pushes me.”
Discussing Hirano, White said he was impressed by the young rider’s composure.
“I’m sure he’s going to be around for a while,” White said. “I was proud to ride with him tonight.”
Also on Sunday, Tucker Hibbert of Pelican Rapids, Minn., won the snocross event for the sixth consecutive time, solidifying his place as one of the most dominant X Games competitors of all time. Hibbert, 28, led the 15-sled race around the Buttermilk course essentially from start to finish.
In the early afternoon ski slopestyle events, Nick Goepper, 18, of Lawrenceburg, Ind. prevailed in the men’s round, while Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen of Norway won the women’s competition. Chistiansen, 17, unseated reigning champion Kaya Turski, 24, or Montreal, who came in second but was looking for her fourth-straight gold.
During the women’s ski slopestyle competition, New Zealand skier Rose Battersby, 18, suffered a lumbar spine fracture and was airlifted to a Denver hospital, although she maintained feeling in all her extremities, according to ESPN.