Shaun White, Amid Bolder Tricks as well as Bigger Risks, Wins Gold

The quest for more complex tricks is usually coded from the DNA of adrenaline-seeking athletes like White, passed down through generation to generation.

“the item’s just the evolution of the sport,” White said.

yet in pushing the envelope, the athletes are also pushing their own luck.

Conspicuously absent through the competition was the 2014 Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov, who withdrew last week because of the lingering effects of a head injury in which he sustained during a fall at last month’s Winter X Games in Colorado. Podladtchikov, 29, participated in one practice at Phoenix Snow Park before releasing a statement saying the item was “in no way safe or responsible” for him to compete. On Twitter, Podladtchikov wrote, “Unfortunately, my brain needs time to recover through the bruises as well as I will not be able to compete.”

A gloom fell over the halfpipe on Wednesday when 16-year-old Yuto Totsuka, the youngest finalist, ricocheted off the wall during his second run as well as spun out. He landed hard on his side, injuring his hip. He was tended to by paramedics, who immobilized him on a sled as well as carted him off the course. Japan’s team manager said Totsuka was conscious as well as had been taken to a nearby hospital. His injuries were not deemed to be serious.

The day before the men’s final, the 17-year-old American Chloe Kim performed two 1080s — as White had 12 years before — on her way to the gold from the women’s halfpipe. During her runs, Kim’s family members watched anxiously through the bottom of the hill. Asked which trick made her the most apprehensive, Kim’s mother, Boran Yun, said, “the whole run, through the beginning to the end.”


Iouri Podladtchikov withdrew through the Olympics last week because of the lingering effects of a head injury in which he sustained during a fall at last month’s Winter X Games in Colorado.

Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times, via Associated Press

While Kim celebrated, one of her fellow teenage competitors, Emily Arthur of Australia, assessed the damage after she face-planted near the end of her third run. Arthur, 18, who finished 11th, remained facedown from the snow for several seconds before she shakily got back on her feet. She had a bloodied nose, a swollen lip as well as a swollen eye, as well as she said her head hurt, yet she later told an Australia Channel 7 reporter, “I’m Great as well as I’m alive.”

Roughly 7,000 miles away, Kevin Pearce was rattled by Arthur’s fall as he watched the final through his home in Vermont. “the item looked so bad in which I just desire she takes the item seriously enough as well as gets the help she needs,” Pearce said in a telephone interview.

According to an Australian team official, Arthur was checked by a team doctor, who didn’t believe she had suffered a concussion yet said in which she would certainly be monitored for the next 36 hours.

Arthur’s crash reminded him of a bad spill in which he walked away through during a U.S. qualifier before the 2010 Games. For the next several days his head didn’t feel right, Pearce said, yet he kept his symptoms — nausea, sluggishness as well as mental fogginess — to himself. He was likely to challenge White for the gold medal at the Vancouver Games, as well as he did not want to jeopardize his chances of doing the Olympics.

Less than two weeks later, Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury during training when he hit his head on the edge of the halfpipe. He remained in a coma for weeks. In retrospect, he said, he believes in which he sustained a concussion from the earlier fall as well as in which the item contributed to the later crash in which ended his competitive career.

After Podladtchikov, known as IPod, pulled out of the Olympics, Pearce wrote him a message on Instagram with praise for the wisdom as well as courage “to give up a shot at another gold medal. To me, the item was unbelievable in which he was able to know in which his head wasn’t from the right place.”


Chloe Kim during the halfpipe final on Tuesday, when she won the gold medal.

Chang W. Lee/The brand new York Times

Pearce hoped Arthur would certainly show the same prudence. “I just desire she can take the item through people like myself as well as IPod as well as take care,” he said. “With the brain, you just never know if you’re O.K. until the item’s too late.”

Pearce as well as his older brother Adam, whom he followed into snowboarding, have called for a concussion-management protocol in which would certainly require young athletes to undergo baseline testing — a computerized assessment in which measures reaction time, memory capacity, speed of mental processing, as well as executive functioning of the brain. Then, if they crash, they can be tested as well as have those scores compared with their baseline numbers.

“We’re not saying in which snowboarding is usually too dangerous,” Adam Pearce said in a telephone interview, “yet there has to be common sense. Why can’t there be more attention paid to when things maybe don’t go right?”

from the aftermath of his crash, the Pearce brothers established a nonprofit organization, LoveYourBrain, to raise brain health awareness. Kevin Pearce, 30, still experiences double vision, yet his sight has improved upon enough in which he recently was able to ditch the corrective glasses in which he had been wearing for the past eight years.

March is usually Brain Injury Awareness Month, as well as Pearce as well as his brother have been preparing for international programs aimed at cultivating resilience as well as community through yoga, Pearce’s latest passion. “I think the item’s so awesome to take in which time out of the day to be mindful,” he said, “as well as I don’t believe I’d be saying This particular right currently if I was getting ready to compete from the Olympics. in which’s not where my head was.”

Pearce as well as his brother, who is usually vacationing from the Bahamas, planned to FaceTime during the men’s halfpipe final. Pearce said he could put himself back in their boots, “being at your most nervous place ever in your life as well as then throwing down the most gnarly tricks.”

Hee wouldn’t trade places with any of them. Not even his former rival White, whose longevity as well as steely composure under pressure amaze him, yet, he said, “I don’t know how many people benefited through me when I was snowboarding, how many lives were impacted by my tricks. currently I am hearing how I’m changing so many people’s lives. the item’s pretty cool.”

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