February 13, 2018 / 10:33 AM / 8 months ago

Snowboarding: White inspired by amazing rivals

(Reuters) - Double Olympic gold medallist Shaun White was spurred on by his rivals as he sealed top spot in qualifying for the men’s snowboard halfpipe event on Tuesday.

Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Halfpipe Qualification - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 13, 2018 - Shaun White of the U.S. looks on after qualifying. REUTERS/Mike Blake

American White scored 93.25 in his first run and followed up with a 98.50 to finish ahead of Australian Scotty James and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano.

Snowboarding - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Halfpipe Qualification - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 13, 2018 - Shaun White of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“I was stoked to put that (first) run down, that took the pressure and the edge off and then I started seeing everyone putting these great runs in and I figured I would step it up. They motivated me to send it on that last one,” White told reporters.

“I knew I had it in me, I watched these young guys putting these amazing runs in and it fired me up. I just wanted to show that this is what I have been doing my entire life.”

White, 31, also spoke of his pride in inspiring the younger competitors, specifically 19-year-old Hirano who claimed the silver medal in Sochi four years ago.

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“Honestly Ayumu, I have watched him since he was 13 years old. He was in a tough position... Yeah they were saying that to him (that Ayumu was going to be the next Shaun White) as a 13-year-old kid,” White added.

“That’s a lot of pressure and a lot to live up to - and I am sitting there saying ‘What do you mean? I am still here’. I am just proud to be someone that changed the sport.

“This is my fourth Olympics, I have never really felt like an underdog since I was a little kid.”

The final starts at 1000 local time (0100 GMT) on Wednesday with White chasing a record third Olympic snowboarding gold medal.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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