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Shaun White finishes 4th in men's halfpipe, wrapping up storied Olympic career

Shaun White of Team USA waves goodbye after his final run in the men's snowboard halfpipe final at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. He placed fourth in his final race.
Maddie Meyer
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Shaun White of Team USA waves goodbye after his final run in the men's snowboard halfpipe final at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. He placed fourth in his final race.

BEIJING — A fourth gold medal eluded Olympic champion snowboarder Shaun White in his last showing on the halfpipe at the Beijing Winter Games. The five-time Olympian finished fourth — missing the podium by 2.25 points.

Japan's Ayumu Hirano impressed with his final run that pushed him to the top of the leaderboard with 96 points. Coming in second was Australia's Scotty James with 92.5 points after a high-flying second run, followed by Switzerland's Jan Scherrer with 87.25 points.

Friday's event was White's last competition as a professional snowboarder.

"A lot of emotions are hitting me right now — the cheering from the crowd, some kind words from my fellow competitors at the bottom. I'm so happy," White said, crying. "Snowboarding, thank you. It's been the love of my life."

Ayumu Hirano of Team Japan performs a trick in the final gold medal run during the men's snowboard halfpipe final.
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Ayumu Hirano of Team Japan performs a trick in the final gold medal run during the men's snowboard halfpipe final.

Despite not medaling, White, 35, showed he's able to handle the halfpipe better than some of his younger competitors. His second, best run brought him 85 points. But a wipeout in his final go at the course meant he couldn't beat his best score of the day.

He said he was still proud of where he finished.

"I would have loved to walk out there with everyone for one last time, but you can't always get what you want, you get what you need," he said.

An emotional White removed his helmet and waved to the crowd as he left the course, bowing his head to huge applause. He had tears in his eyes as he waited for his score.

He leaves the sport as still the first, and only, snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals. He is also the oldest-ever halfpipe rider to represent the U.S.

White said he is leaving Beijing looking to the future.

"The future for me is so exciting; there's so much I want to do in my life," White said. "So much to do, so much to live for, this is just the beginning for me."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Shaun White of Team USA performs a trick during the men's snowboard halfpipe final at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Shaun White of Team USA performs a trick during the men's snowboard halfpipe final at the 2022 Winter Olympics.