Shaun White boarded the run of his career last night during the Olympics and before even knowing what the score was, he threw his hands up in celebration and threw his helmet into the crowd.
It turns out he won. After Wednesday’s first run he sat in first place with a 94.25 but had yet to attempt the double cork 1440 he believed he needed to win gold. Plus, he had even more pressure because Ayumu Hirano became the first rider to land back-to-back 14s at X Games Aspen just two weeks ago. In his second run, White tried to pull off back-to-back 14s and fell.
“That gave him confidence,” his coach, JJ Thomas told ESPN. And lo and behold everything connected perfectly under pressure and he landed frontside double cork 1440-cab double cork 1440 combo— the best run of his career.
But the pressure is nothing new to White, and he thrives on it.
“I found myself in this position that I love. I do better when the pressure’s on and I’m at the top, one run to go, the world’s watching, my whole family’s here, everybody’s cheering for me and I put it down,” White said.
White’s struggles from the Sochi games appeared to be gone as he reclaimed his victory in Pyeongchang. But not quite. Especially the disturbing sexual-harassment case he settled last year. In 2016, Lena Zawaideh sued White, alleging sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and nonpayment of wages among other complaints. Zawaideh was the drummer in White’s band, and during her tenure he allegedly texted her, “video of a couple having sex on top of a bear that the man had shot dead and another ‘hardcore porn’ video involving a priest, a nun, and feces when she was 17 or 18 years old.” Aside from texts, Zawaideh also alleges that White once shoved his hands down his pants, then stuck them in her face to smell them.
According to Yahoo, White has admitted to sending the texts but denies everything else. But with the recentering of the importance of women’s rights during the growing #MeToo movement, it’s eye-opening that White’s case—despite being settled— hasn’t been discussed as he once again sits atop of the snowboarding world.