Shaun White's near-perfect run lands him atop qualifying in men's halfpipe
Canadian Derek Livingston misses cut
Shaun White did not disappoint in his return to the Olympics after a heartbreaking fourth-place finish in Sochi in 2014.
The American snowboarding legend grabbed the top qualifying score in men's halfpipe on Tuesday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
VIDEO | Shaun White's near-perfect second run:
The only man to ever be awarded a perfect 100 score — and he did it twice — wasn't quite perfect this time, but he did land his signature Double McTwist 1260 along with three 1080s en route to a 98.5 on his second run.
Meanwhile, Canadian Derek Livingston failed to qualify for the event's final.
The Aurora, Ont., native put down a strong first run that was good for 71.25 points and 11th place. But Livingston stumbled on his second run and was unable to improve that score, eventually finishing 17th.
After a solid 1st run, #CAN's Derek Livingston falls in his 2nd qualifying run and will not advance to the men's halfpipe final. pic.twitter.com/qMrObQcwhn
White's main competitors in the final will be Australia's Scotty James, whose best qualifying score was 96.75, and Japan's Ayumu Hirano at 95.25.
They will look to prevent the red-headed American from winning his third Olympic gold medal.
No choice but to go big
White exhaled after putting up a 93.75 on his first run, assuring the two-time Olympic champion of a spot in the finals. The 31-year-old elder statesmen didn't plan on trying to go even bigger on his second run, but after watching James, Hirano and American teammate Ben Ferguson go big he realized he didn't have much choice.
"I started seeing everybody putting in these great runs and I figured I would just kind of step it up and they motivated me to send it," said White, whose second run didn't even include a 1440-degree jump. That's a double-twisting double flip (four 360-degree body rotations in all) if you're trying to keep up.
Asked if he was trying to send a message, White shrugged and said no. Oh, and also yes.
"It's like I knew I had it in me and I watched these young guys completing these amazing runs and it fired me up," White said. "I just wanted to show this is what I've been doing my entire life and I'm here to put it down."
It also means White will have the last run of the afternoon, a spot where he soared to gold in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010. He didn't even crack the top three in Sochi, a loss that haunted him at times before he hit reset last summer and pointed to South Korea.
The reigning Olympic champion, Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov, was unable to compete in Korea due to brain injuries and a broken nose suffered at the Winter X Games last month.