Western Courier

The Flying Tomato looks to reclaim crown

Haley Richards, Courier Staff

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Everyone has their own personal favorites to watch when it comes to the Olympics. For me, that’s snowboarder Shaun White, also known as “the Flying Tomato.”

Growing up around mountains, I was able to hit the slopes when there was enough snowfall. I remember my first ski trip was in the fifth grade as a field trip for my school. I got the choice to either ski or snowboard and I chose to snowboard because of Shaun White.

White is one of the most well- known names when it comes to the Winter Olympics and that’s for a good reason too. He began snowboarding at the age of six and by the age of seven, he had received his first sponsorship. We saw the first of White in the Winter X-Games in 2002, when he was just 18 years old. He holds the title of most decorated X-Games gold medalist in history. Part of the reason for his collection of hardware is the fact that he has competed in two sports throughout the X-Games. Aside from shredding on the snow, White also skateboards. His 13 gold medals come from events like the halfpipe, superpipe, slopestyle, and of course the skateboarding section in the Summer X-Games.

As far as his Olympic career, White has competed in three Winter Olympics. His first appearance was in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. White went on to win his first gold medal in the half-pipe. This first gold was only a start to a more than ordinary snowboarding career. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, White captured his second gold medal in the half-pipe. His Double McTwist 1260, which he named the “Tomahawk,” gave him a score of 48.4 out of a total 50 points. He is the first person to perform the trick and gave it worldwide recognition.

However, as he set out to make history in the 2014 Olympics, he was faced with some heartbreak. White was aiming to become the first U.S. man to win gold in the same event at three consecutive Winter Olympics but was unable to do so. After falling during his runs in the half-pipe event, White would finish off the podium in fourth place.

In an interview done by NBC Olympics just over a year ago, White had some words for all of us.

“People ask, ‘When are you going to get over it?’ You know, the loss of whatever. You don’t really ever get over it. It’s kind of like you have a scar from falling off a bike, it’s just with you forever. But you learn from it. So, it’s a part of me now, which is great. As hard as it was, I’m thankful that it happened because it taught me a lot.” White said.

Thankfully, for us Flying Tomato fans, his setback in Sochi didn’t stop him from wanting to compete. White will once again be competing in the half-pipe event, which let’s admit, is the most entertaining snowboarding event there is. Nothing against slopestyle, but watching someone fly up the side of a half-pipe and start spinning in the air is exhilarating; even if you are just at home sitting on the couch watching.

“I think Pyeongchang will be great, to be honest,” White said. “I think that with what happened at Sochi, they’re going to be very precise on their methods of building that halfpipe. It was just a strange one to be honest, everything that happened at Sochi had never really happened before. And now coming into this one I have faith that it’s going to be great. What else can you do? Wishful thinking.”

White qualified for the Olympics after his run in the U.S. Grand Prix just about two weeks ago. He landed a cab double cork 1440 with a perfect 100 score. I’m glad to see that he is competing in another Winter Olympics. Not to mention, who doesn’t like a good comeback.

“I’m just hoping to show up and ride like I know I can, put down the runs,” White said. “If I do that, I’m totally content.”

The fact that Shaun White chose to compete this year speaks a lot about him. I can only imagine how discouraged he was after his last Olympics, but he has improved himself and his career. Out of all the events, I got to say, this is the one I am most eager for. The 31-year-old has once again found his love for the sport and is even talking about competing in the Beijing Games in 2022.

It’s sort of crazy to think that the same person who inspired me to want to snowboard when I was young, is still around to catch the attention of younger generations. I’m not fanatical when it comes to the Olympics, but I still managed to purchase Hulu Live TV so that I can watch it.

I’m anxious to see White and how he is able to perform. Regardless of the outcome, I will always be a fan of the Flying Tomato. I think sometimes when an athlete ends on a bad note, that is all that people tend to remember. In my case, I will always remember watching White as a 10-year -old little girl and being awed by his abilities.

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The Flying Tomato looks to reclaim crown