Not that there was any doubt about it, but Shaun White is the best snowboarder alive. Wednesday night he successfully defended his 2006 men's halfpipe gold medal. And yes, he did the Double McTwist 1260.
After a flawless first run, White found himself where he usually is: atop the leaderboard. Then, after every other snowboarder took a second shot at knocking him from his perch, he remained in first. Since only the best of two runs is counted in scoring, Shaun White already had his gold medal. Now he could have some fun.
With no pressure on him, White went, as he would call it, "heavy." Huge, huge, enormous air, the now-requisite double cork, and then to top things off, the trick that only he can do — the Double McTwist 1260. It's a trick so amazing it doesn't even have an official name, though White was overheard calling it the "Double Mc." Works for me.
Forty-eight point four. That was his finishing score. Unfortunate rhyme aside, that's an outstanding mark. An entire 3.4 points higher than the silver medalist, Finland's Peetu Piiroinen. And it was more than deserved.
In the past 12 months, White has advanced snowboarding further than the sport had advanced in the previous 10 years. He's the reason double corks were a necessity. He's the reason that sponsors such as Nike and Microsoft care about snowboarding. Shaun White is more important to his sport than any athlete on the planet, and this is coming from an enormous NBA fan. Basketball could survive without LeBron James. Snowboarding would go nowhere without Shaun White.
That's why it's so awesome to see someone so transcendent perform so well on the sport's biggest stage. It's not every day that you get to witness greatness, or see history being made, but that's the case with Shaun White. He keeps getting better when he's already the best.
And he's only 23. Whoa boy.