For the first time since halfpipe snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998, the American men — including Shaun White and Truckee’s Danny Davis — were shut out Tuesday at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov, aka I-Pod, won gold while the young Japanese pair of Ayumu Hirano, 15, and Taku Hiraoka, 18, took silver and bronze.
White, who crashed hard on the lip of the pipe on his first run, needed to overcome Podladtchikov’s second-run score of 94.75 to earn a third consecutive gold medal in the event.
The final competitor in the field, White, 27, failed to throw down a flawless run and received a score of 90.25, which was only good enough for fourth. Davis, 25, who won gold at the Winter X Games last month, fell in both of his runs and placed 10th.
Greg Bretz of Mammoth Lakes finished 12th and fellow American Taylor Gold of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was 14th. The United States had previously won eight of 12 medals in Olympic halfpipe competition.
“We let America down,” Davis told the New York Times. “Sorry, America. Iouri shined bright.”
Podladtchikov was expected to challenge for gold. The Russian-born rider, who was fourth at the Vancouver Games in 2010, topped the field by landing his signature trick, the double-cork 1440, which he calls the Yolo flip.
White had also learned the trick after watching Podladtchikov unveil it at the X Games Tignes in Europe last March.
Davis, on the other hand, brought a refreshing aspect to the event as he mixed old-school style with new-school tricks.
Like White, however, it just wasn’t his night.
“It’s always tough to fall on two runs,” Davis said. “To land one and get screwed by the judges or something like that — I can handle that. But I hate not landing two runs, especially in this event with such a big crowd and the amount of media here.”