Shaun White returned to competitive snowboarding yesterday following a nearly three-year hiatus. The last time he competed was when he won his third Olympic title in 2018.
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White had the second-highest score in halfpipe at the US Grand Prix in Aspen, CO, the first in a series of 2022 Olympic qualifying events.
In his first run, White landed a double McTwist 1260, a cab double cork 1080, and a frontside 1080, for 91.50 points.
“A little nervous. Obviously, it’s been a minute. I’m like, I know how to do this, but I’m just kind of shaking off the cobwebs of it all.”
– Shaun White
Japan’s Yuto Totsuka had the highest score in Thursday’s qualifying, 94.25 points, and has landed double cork 1440s this season. This is the trick that White landed to claim his Olympic Gold in 2018. Totsuka is one of the favorites for Olympic glory, having won the Burton U.S. Open, X Games and world championships in the last two years.
Currently 34, if White does qualify for the Olympics, he will become the oldest US Olympic halfpipe rider in history.
Last year, White announced the decision to turn his focus away from making the US skateboarding team for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, so he can prepare to defend his halfpipe title in Beijing in 2022.
“The decision became less about going for a skate and more about, am I willing to walk away from snow? It just was going in that direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it and I can’t wholeheartedly choose this path with what I’ve got going on snow.”
– Shaun White
Skateboarding is one of four new sports on the Olympic program for the Tokyo Games, and it seemed a natural jump for White, whose skateboarding talent was recognized when he was a child by the legendary Tony Hawk. After spotting his talent at a California skate park when White was just 9 years old, Hawk took White under his wing and mentored him for several years, writes Team USA.