PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Four years ago in Sochi, American snowboarder Shaun White stood at the top of the halfpipe in tears reflecting on missing the chance to win a record third Olympic snowboarding gold.
He finished fourth that day and decided to take some time off from the sport to play in a band and focus on other business interests.
But as time wore on, White began to get the itch again and soon he was back on his snowboard, striving to push himself to be better.
On Wednesday all of White’s heartache and pain from Sochi was dispelled as the 31-year-old put in a virtuoso performance to win the men’s halfpipe and claim his third gold medal, the most by any snowboarder.
After his run, which scored an almost perfect 97.75, White roared and celebrated with his team, tearfully hugging Olympic bronze medalist Jarret ‘JJ’ Thomas and young rider Toby Miller, who have been by White’s side in the buildup to Pyeongchang.
White said it was the best run of his career.
“I have done when I really needed to, I have delivered when I needed to most,” said an exuberant White after the final.
He admitted he had never landed the exact back-to-back 1440s that he dropped in Wednesday’s final.
“I am so proud of myself, and I never say that,” he added, before jokingly patting himself on the back.
White took to Instagram before the final to say he had been waiting four years for this moment. He said it was redemption for his crushing disappointment at Sochi.
“I was so upset with my performance in Sochi and I had to wait so long for this Olympics. There have been so many ups and downs in the process,” said White.
For him it has always been about the Olympics but admitted he was not motivated enough for Sochi and needed to regain his love for the sport.
White gave a lot of credit to his team for helping him reach the point where he could claim another gold medal.
“I have to thank JJ and Toby and all the people around me. They kept it fun, they kept it motivating,” he said.
Having already cemented his legacy as the greatest snowboarder in the sport, the competitive fire still burns deep in White and he was already looking to the future - not only to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing but also the Tokyo Summer Games, where he hopes to compete in skateboarding.
For now White will reflect on his status as one of the greatest Olympians of all time and spend time with friends and family, starting with Miller’s 18th birthday party on Wednesday night.
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly