KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — The reign was over before Shaun White raised a hopeful finger signaling he was No. 1 as he crossed the finish line of the halfpipe.
The judges weren't going to give him this one, and even he seemed to recognize that. Too many mistakes, and a gnarly trick pulled off to perfection by a rider known as I-Pod took care of that.
It was all set up for him, all there for the taking. One final run for the gold everyone expected him to win, and White could earn a place in the record book as the first U.S. man to win three straight gold medals at a Winter Games.
It would have been great for the brand, maybe even win him a few more sponsors and Twitter followers. It certainly would have cemented his status as the greatest Olympic snowboarder ever, though the two earlier gold medals probably already took care of that.
But it was too much. And White realized it too late.
Chalk this epic loss up to sheer greed. White wanted it all, and ended up with nothing.
He was going to add two gold medals to his Olympic treasure chest in this grand Russian adventure. Do something no other snowboarder would even dream of doing by winning the slopestyle and the halfpipe, too.
Now he's going home empty handed, a loser for the first time on the biggest stage in sports.
That is such a shocker that even White and his fellow boarders would have to think long and hard to come up with a name for it.
"It's weird," said Iouri Podladtchikov, the Russian-born winner who competes for Switzerland but sounds very much like he is from California. "This time, he was there and didn't win. I think I've never been at a competition where he didn't really win."
There wasn't any indication this wouldn't be White's night on the halfpipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. He qualified in his usual No. 1 position, then watched as his fellow boarders put up first-run scores in the final that didn't seem terribly difficult to beat.
But he slipped on his backside in his first attempt at the Yolo trick that he had borrowed from Podladtchikov and then perfected. Then his board got caught on the lip of the pipe, sending him sprawling awkwardly.
The great thing about the halfpipe, though, is you get a second chance. And White got his as the last man on the course, only now he had to beat the 94.75 point mark set by Podladtchikov to win the gold once again.