U.S. snowboarding icon Shaun White qualified for the halfpipe final at the 2018 Winter Olympics Tuesday, coming one step closer to redemption after his disappointing fourth-place finish four years ago in Sochi.
White, who has earned two Olympic gold medals in his signature event, had already secured his spot in the halfpipe finals with a score of 93.25 in his first run, but scored an impressive 98.50 in his second. That run, which included back-to-back 1260s, placed him above all others in the competitive and talented halfpipe field, which includes gold medal contenders Scotty James of Australia and Ayumu Hirano of Japan.
Before White prepared to compete in the halfpipe final, allegations against him of sexual harassment resurfaced. White settled a 2016 lawsuit brought by a former drummer in his rock band that he “repeatedly sexually harassed her.”
If White wins in the finals, which will be broadcast Tuesday night in the U.S., he could claim the 100th gold medal for the U.S. at winter Olympics since 1924.
“I was stoked to put that run down,” White told NBCOlympics.com after the qualification. “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.”
“I knew I had it in me, I watched these young guys putting these amazing runs in and it fired me up,” he told reporters after the event, according to Reuters. “I just wanted to show that this is what I have been doing my entire life.”
White’s nearly perfect score is just the latest of his high-scoring qualification runs. In January, White scored a perfect 100 when qualifying for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. That perfect score came with comments by his competitors, including James who criticized the judges for awarding it. “Personally, and I have spoken to a lot of other snowboarders, it’s pretty tough to get a perfect score,” he told NBCOlympics.com. “I didn’t agree with that at all.”
White’s qualification comes as the U.S. dominates in snowboarding in PyeongChang. U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim made waves with her stunning halfpipe win Tuesday, and Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson won gold in each of their events earlier in the Games.
As White heads into the finals, here are a few things to know.
Who is White competing against in the halfpipe final?
The top two competitors who stand in the way of White’s run for gold are 23-year-old James of Australia and 19-year-old Hirano of Japan. The younger snowboarders also easily qualified for the halfpipe finals on Tuesday, with James and Hirano scoring 96.75 and 95.25, respectively, in their second runs.
Twelve athletes in total will compete in the men’s halfpipe finals, including three of White’s U.S. teammates: Ben Ferguson, who came in fourth place in the qualifications, and Chase Josey and Jake Pates. Two other riders from Japan join Hirano, and one other Australian athlete joins James.
When are the men’s snowboarding halfpipe finals?
White, James and Hirano will square off in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe finals on Wednesday, when medals will be awarded. The event will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Korea, which is 8 p.m. ET Tuesday for viewers in the U.S. during NBC’s primetime Olympics lineup.