Dude is known as The Flying Tomato. Dude won a gold medal Sunday in the men’s snowboard half-pipe at the Olympics. Dude is 19, talented and pretty well grounded, despite the air he catches on his board.
American Shaun White’s Olympic dream nearly died before it started as he stumbled on his first qualifying run, which put him in a do-or-die situation on his next attempt. Did he tense up?
‘‘I’m feeling all Olympic-y,’’ he said of the butterflies that settled in his stomach between qualifying runs. After a conservative but error-free run got him to the final round, White flashed the brilliance that enabled him to win six consecutive competions heading into the Games. His score of 46.8 out of 50 possible points would not be approached by any other rider.
White, whose nickname comes from his flowing red locks, is well-known in the snowboarding community, but as is the case with many Olympic athletes, he’s a relative stranger to the rest of us. His first impression on America at-large was a good one. At the end of the competition, White shared tears and hugs with the family that has supported him through two surgeries for a heart defect and a series of injuries from the high-flying sport over which he now reigns.
But athletic dominance was not what the fun-loving California teen was focused on: ‘‘I’m hoping Sasha Cohen digs gold medals,’’ White said, referring to the 21-year-old U.S. figure skater. Well, we do, if that counts for anything.