Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 12, 2014

White falls to the I-Pod in Olympic stunner

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Shaun White lost to a kid they call the “I-Pod,” and now, he may never hear the end of it.

How big of an Olympic shocker was this? White, the best snowboarder of his era and one of the best-known and best-marketed athletes at the Sochi Games, didn’t even win a medal. He finished fourth.

The 27-year-old American, who opted out of the Olympic slopestyle debut and put all his chips in the halfpipe, where he hoped to win a third straight gold medal, got knocked off by Iouri Podladtchikov, the Russian-born inventor of the “Yolo,” the trick that White could not master.

“I’m disappointed,” White said. “I hate the fact I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It’s hard to be consistent.”

The Japanese pair of 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano and 18-year-old Taku Hiraoka won silver and bronze, and the Americans were shut out on the halfpipe for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.

Podladtchikov, who now lives in and competes for Switzerland, landed the trick successfully at an event in Europe last season, White watched on his computer and knew what he had to do next.

He landed it twice in qualifying events and was listed as the heavy favorite to become the seventh person to win three straight gold medals in an individual event at the Winter Games.

When White pulled out of the Olympics’ inaugural slopestyle contest, saying he didn’t want to risk injury for his historic quest on the halfpipe, the stakes were set.

It unraveled early.

On White’s first of two runs in the final, his attempt at the Yolo ended with a fall that left him sliding down the halfpipe on his backside. Even though his chance at putting up a winning score was over, he tried to finish the run with another of his double-cork tricks. White wasn’t close — his board slammed on the lip of the pipe, followed by an awkward and painful fall onto his rear.

I-Pod had scored an 86.5 in his first run — clearly in medal contention — and then won it on his second attempt. The Yolo includes a total of 1440 degrees of spin — two head-over-heels flips and two 360-degree turns. Four years ago, it was unthinkable, but not anymore. He landed it and even though he only threw five tricks, when most riders were trying six in a supersized, super-slushy halfpipe, the judges liked what they saw.

As did I-Pod, who spiked his snowboard into the ground like a football.

“He’s incredible,” American Danny Davis, the 10th-place finisher, said of Podladtchikov. “That run on that halfpipe. Wow.”

It put huge pressure on White, whose final runs at the last two Olympics have been nothing more than pressure-free victory rides.

He didn’t fall, but rather skittered down the pipe on his Yolo landing. The landing on his last double cork was less than perfect, too — his knees buckled and nearly touched the snow. White raised one finger in the air and raised his hands in victory. Yes, sometimes judges reward athletes for what they’ve done, not what they just did.

Not this time. White’s fourth-place score, a 90.25, came up, and he broke into a big smile. He gave Podladtchikov a big hug and fatherly mussed his hair. That kid earned it. And the champion had nothing to complain about.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.
     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.
     

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog
More