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Winter X games: Shaun White wins fourth consecutive superpipe title

By Pat Graham

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 30 2011 11:53 p.m. MST

Kelsey Serwa, bottom, Fanny Smith, top, and Ophelie David cross the finish line of the Women's Skier X course in the finals Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, at the ESPN Winter X Games 15 in Aspen, Colo. Serwa and David crashed, but finished first and second with Smith taking third.

Associated Press

ASPEN, Colo. — Shaun White captured his fourth straight superpipe crown at the Winter X Games, holding off Scotty Lago by performing his signature trick, a difficult and dangerous maneuver only few can do.

White, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, cemented the win on his second run Sunday night, pulling out the Double McTwist 1260 in which he launches himself high above the pipe, then does two head-over-heels flips and 3 1/2 rotations.

That was good enough to overtake Lago, who led after the first run despite competing with a broken jaw. Louie Vito was third.

All three were members of the Olympic snowboarding team in Vancouver, with White winning gold and Lago winding up with bronze.

White was looking quite stylish, wearing a black leather jacket and skin-tight pants. His snowboarding was just as cutting edge as White demonstrated why he's the undisputed king of the pipe, even if he was battling a cold.

Before Sunday, White never really had to pull out the McTwist to come from behind and secure a win.

Usually, he's only brought it out for victory laps.

But the trick was spot-on when he needed it most.

"I saw Lago just destroying it," White told the ESPN broadcast. "I figured it was all or nothing. I knew I needed to stick the best run and went for it."

White has now captured 11 gold medals in his Winter X career and proved he hasn't lost some of his snowboarding prowess.

Earlier in the week, the legend of White took a little ding when he washed out of the slopestyle competition, failing to qualify for the finals Sunday afternoon.

White won the slopestyle event in 2009 at Winter X, but his game slipped as he focused on the pipe in the lead-up to the Vancouver Games.

A young group of riders led by 18-year-old Sebastien Toutant has surpassed him, showing White just how much catching up he has to do in the event that tests a rider's ability to handle a variety of terrain by rolling over rails, jumps and other obstacles.

"I'm sure if he practices more, Shaun White will be able to do good in slopestyle as well," said Toutant, who edged fellow Canadian Mark McMorris in the finals. "When he learns all those double corks, he's going to be able to put it down every run. I can't wait for him to get back on slopestyle. He's a rock star."

White, of Carlsbad, Calif., looked at the superpipe as an opportunity to redeem himself.

"Going into slopestyle, I wasn't holding the biggest cards," White said. "After living and learning, I'm so fired up for next year."

This may provide even more motivation: There's a strong probability the International Olympic Committee will add the snowboarding slopestyle event — along with skiing slopestyle and skiing halfpipe — to the program for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

White has some polishing to do.

"I'm probably at the bottom of the barrel in slopestyle, trying to catch up with where they're at," White conceded.

It's strange to see White so vulnerable on a snowboard, so human.

"I don't think he's ever been far behind in anything in snowboarding," said Kevin Pearce, who's serving as an analyst as he recovers from a traumatic brain injury he sustained just over a year ago while practicing in the halfpipe. "I think that's exciting for him, because he's never had anything to work on. He's unstoppable in the pipe."

That was definitely the case Sunday, once he warmed up. He turned in a businesslike effort on his first trip down.

Then, he went big, pumping his fist after landing the McTwist, a move he secretly perfected last year in the backcountry near Silverton, Colo., on a course created just for him.

In other finals on the last day of Winter X:

— Snowmobiler Tucker Hibbert, of Goodridge, Minn., won his fifth straight crown in SnoCross.

— Rookie Enni Rukajarvi of Finland captured the women's snowboard slopestyle final.

— Despite both crashing on the final jump and sliding across the finish line, Canada's Kelsey Serwa ended the reign of France's Ophelie David in women's skier X. Serwa bruised her tailbone and scraped her nose in the win, while David didn't seek medical treatment.

— John Teller, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., held off defending champion Chris Del Bosco in men's skier X, while Casey Puckett, of Aspen, ended up with the bronze.

"I had the best seat in the house," said the 38-year old Puckett, who recently helped form the American Ski Cross Association to support riders such as Teller. "I was watching Teller and Del Bosco go at it and really I was waiting to see if they made a mistake so that I could capitalize on it. But they had a good race."

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