Iouri Podladtchikov takes gold in men's snowboard halfpipe
Dethrones two-time winner Shaun White of U.S.
Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov dethroned American legend Shaun White in men's snowboard halfpipe Tuesday, winning gold at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park at the Sochi Olympics.
The Russian-born athlete posted a score of 94.75 out of a possible 100 to leapfrog into first place on his second of two runs.
Podladtchikov, who goes by the moniker "I-Pod" on the snowboarding circuit, landed the trick he
invented to seal the win — a 1440-degree whirling jump he nicknamed the "Yolo" jump. ("Yolo" stands for "you only live once.")
White came in fourth place in the event. He was the two-time defending gold medallist.
White is two-time defending champion in the event, a 13-time X Games medallist and the most decorated snowboarder of all time.
He did well enough in his lone qualifying run to book his ticket straight to the finals. But when he started his run in the finals, things didn't go well. Although he was soaring high in the air on his jumps, his body hit the snow twice in his run and was in 11th place out of 12 boarders after his first run.
White fared much better with a score of 90.25 on his second attempt, but it wasn't enough to get on to the podium.
It was 15-year-old Japanese phenom Ayumu Hirano who was seen as the best bet to dethrone him, as the diminutive Japanese phenom has been nipping White's heels all season.
Hirano's run did not disappoint, posting a score of 93.50. But Podladtchikov, who seemed to get better as the day went on, posted an eye-popping jump to close out his second run in the finals and jump into the lead.
Japanese snowboarder Taku Hiraoka took the bronze.
Podladtchikov's win is vindication for him after finishing in fourth place, just outside the medals, four years ago in Vancouver.
The event saw many competitors wipe out over the course of the day, as there have been many complaints that the Sochi course is too vertical. The vertical edge of the pipe is seven metres tall in Sochi, more than twice the height it has been in previous Olympic competitions.
Many competitors have been hitting the deck on top of the course instead of landing their jumps cleanly.
With files from The Associated Press