Shaun White's Olympic reign comes to crashing end

Updated Feb. 11, 2014 at 2:13 PM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland pulled off a shocking Olympic victory Tuesday and ended the reign of Shaun White as the king of extreme winter sports.

White had won the last two Olympic snowboarding halfpipe gold medals and was the overwhelming favorite to become the first American man to win the same event three consecutive times at the Winter Games.

Everything went as expected when White earned the highest scores of the day from the judges during qualifying with a performance that moved him directly into the finals.

With the lights beaming down on the halfpipe, however, White failed to produce in the finals. He took a tumble on a landing during the first of his two efforts and then, with Podladtchikov having put down a huge performance minutes earlier, White was unable to come through with the kind of dazzling show that has been his trademark.

White jumped high and performed all his big tricks in the second run, but two of the landings were slightly flawed and he was given a score that was only fourth best.

Podladtchikov won with a score of 94.75 while Japanese snowboarders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won the silver and bronze medals. Hirano received a score of 93.50, Hiraoka totaled 92.25 points and White was given a 90.25.

White was performing with a jammed wrist suffered during training for the slopestyle event, from which he later withdrew, but that could not be used as an excuse for his showing in the finals. His qualifying run had brought a score of 95.75 from the judges.

White has helped popularize snowboarding around the world and that, in turn, has been a major factor in the International Olympic Committee adding more and more extreme sports to the Winter Games program.

An additional eight disciplines in snowboarding and freestyle skiing were brought into the Olympics this year and those two sports will make up 20 percent of the competitions conducted at the Sochi Games.

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