There isn’t a more recognizable figure in the world of extreme winter sports than Shaun White. He hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this year, though.
White was expected to arrive at Aspen as he always has—with a new trick up his sleeve and several gold medals to be won. After failing to deliver in the snowboarding slopestyle competition en route to a fifth-place finish, he’ll have one more shot on Sunday in the superpipe final.
The Flying Tomato is in position to redeem his slopestyle performance. In the elimination round, White finished second behind Iouri Podladtchikov with a run of 87—just .33 points shy of the Swiss 24-year-old.
White highlighted his run with two double cork 1080s out of the gate, finishing with a backside method more than 19 feet above Buttermilk pipe. You can watch his entire run below:
With another run like that on Sunday, White stands a good chance of repeating superpipe gold. His Thursday run looked crisp and relatively mistake-free, though he did land low on the pipe on his frontside 540.
White didn’t complete his second run, but he didn’t have to. Only four other challengers scored an 80 or better in the elimination round, and his 87 was 4.34 points higher than the next closest rider. He did fail to secure the final starting position in the finals by finishing second behind Iouri Podladtchikov, though.
While perfection isn’t easy, it is almost expected of the most decorated rider in snowboarding history. Fans want to see White go big, and that’s exactly what he’ll do on Sunday. He’s out to defend his title and the perfect score he recorded en route to superpipe gold last year.
White’s gold last year was already locked up when he completed his perfect run on a bad ankle, which he highlighted with a frontside double cork 1260. He didn’t throw anything quite as extreme in his elimination-round run, but fans should expect White to go just as big with a gold—and perfection—on the line.
The Flying Tomato has earned gold at the Winter X Games each of the last five years. If he doesn’t step up to the plate on Sunday, he’ll be in unfamiliar territory, leaving Aspen without a gold medal to defend for the first time more than half a decade.
He isn’t the type of competitor who takes days off, though. White has a desire to be the best, and he’ll prove it in the superpipe final. Given what’s at stake, White could be poised for another perfect run in defense of his title.