Soaring to the final match! Shaun White officially qualified for the halfpipe final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Tuesday, February 13.
The snowboarder, 31, took home a score of 93.25 in his first run and 98.50 in his second, which beat out gold medal contenders Scotty James of Australia and Ayumu Hirano of Japan.
“I was stoked to put that run down,” White told NBC following his performance. “That took the pressure and the edge off and then I started seeing everyone putting in these great runs in. I figured I would send it on that last one.”
This is a big comeback for White, who suffered a brutal injury in October 2017. The athlete needed 62 face stitches after he took off a millisecond early on a double cork 1440. A helicopter transported him to the hospital and he missed a month of training. On Tuesday, he told Natalie Morales that he took his time coming back and was terrified to compete again.
SHAUN WHITE IS ON A MISSION. #BestOfUS #WinterOlympics https://t.co/E1XuTKthTN pic.twitter.com/Lp6pO9048O
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 13, 2018
White, who already has racked up 13 gold medals at the Winter X Games over the years, previously placed fourth place during the Sochi Olympics four years ago.
Team USA has so far dominated the slopes. At just 17, Red Gerard won the first gold medal for the U.S. by earning a score of 87.16 in the slopestyle snowboarding event. “I can just maybe go out with them and have a nice dinner — nice and easy,” he exclusively told Us Weekly on what he would do if he won.
“I’m pretty sure I saw a video of them shotgunning beers at 8:30 a.m.,” he added of his family during a press conference after his win. “So I’m pretty sure they are doing just fine.”
Snowboarder Chloe Kim would go on to win the women’s halfpipe event on Monday. “My biggest piece of advice would just be to have fun. I mean, a lot of times it’s really hard, to get a little overwhelmed,” the 17-year-old told Us ahead of the big match. “Just have fun, keep the smile on your face and you’ll be good.”