American snowboarder Shaun White has won Winter Olympics gold for a historic third time in the snowboarding halfpipe, besting the field in Pyeongchang with a phenomenal 97.75 score in his final run and becoming the first person to win a trio of gold medals in the sport.
White led the field after the first round, as judges gave his initial effort a 94.25 score, but Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano edged to the front with a 95.25 in the second round.
In the last round, with the last run of the final, White managed to pull out a near-perfect run to steal gold.
Hirano scored the silver medal, while Australian snowboarder Scotty James won bronze.
The 31-year-old White is now on top of the all-time Olympic gold medal tally for snowboarding, which was introduced to the Winter Games in 1998, with wins at the 2006 Turin Games and the 2010 Vancouver Games in addition to his gold in Pyeongchang.
NBC has been celebrating White and his quest to make history with a third gold medal win, though the network was called out this week for failing to acknowledge that the athlete settled a sexual harassment suit in 2017.
White joins fellow American Kelly Clark (who won a gold and two bronzes) on top of the overall medal tally for the sport. Both have three Olympic snowboarding medals each.
In another milestone, White’s win was the 100th gold won by U.S. athletes in the Winter Games.
It was also the fourth gold for the United States in Pyeongchang, with all four medals coming in snowboarding events. U.S. athletes have managed to claim golds in all the snowboarding competitions thus far, with Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson taking honors in men’s and women’s slopestyle, and Chloe Kim winning the women’s halfpipe.
After White’s disappointing showing at the 2014 Sochi Games and a scary practice fall that left him with 62 stitches on his face last October, he’s reclaimed his place on top of the snowboarding world after the phenomenal performance. The early signs pointed to a White win after he posted a 98.50 score on his second run in the qualifying rounds of the halfpipe on Tuesday.
“I started seeing everyone putting these great runs in and I figured I would step it up,” White told NBC Sports. “They motivated me to send it on that last one.”
He later tweeted that he had been looking forward to the final for four years, since his disappointing performance in Sochi, where he dropped out of the slopestyle competition and placed fourth in the halfpipe.