Shaun White waved goodbye to his glittering snowboard career at the Genting Snow Park above Beijing on Friday, after narrowly missing out on a place on his fourth straight Olympic podium.
The 35-year-old, the winner of the men’s halfpipe competition in each of the last three Games, was visibly emotional after crashing out on his third and final run and handing gold to Ayumu Hirano of Japan.
“I wish I could have landed my last run,” White admitted afterwards. “It’s been a journey and I’m so happy. A lot of emotions are hitting me right now – the cheering from the crowd, some kind words from my fellow competitors.
“I’m not upset about the result, but I would have loved to have put it down – I made it happen for two runs and I couldn’t hold onto it on the last. It’s hard not to be hung up on it because I wanted it so badly.
“I’m proud to have got here for my last goodbye. I just missed the podium and I would have loved to have walked out there with everyone for one last time, but you can’t always get what you want.”
Hirano, who had to settle for silver behind White in both Sochi and Pyeongchang, delivered a triple cork in his final run to score a gold medal-winning 96.0, knocking Australia’s Scotty James into second place with Jan Scherrer of Switzerland taking bronze.
Going for broke, White attempted the double cork 1440 trick that had won him gold in each of the last two Olympics, but fell before he recovered to ease over the line with a smile.
Meanwhile, Mikaela Shiffrin’s difficult Games continued as she had to settle for ninth place in the women’s super-G, with Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami winning gold.
Shiffrin arrived in Beijing as a hot favourite to win five medals across women’s alpine disciplines, but skied out early in both the giant-slalom and slalom, after which it was announced that she would no longer be conducting media interviews during the Games.
Austria’s Mirjam Puchner won the silver medal 0.22 seconds behind Gut-Behrami, with another Swiss, Michelle Gisin, 0.30 seconds back.