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Ipod rolls the Flying Tomato

Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland takes the gold medal in snowboard halfpipe; Shaun White falters to a fourth-place finish

By New York Times

LAST UPDATED: 1:42 a.m. HST, Feb 12, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia >> Shaun White stood at the top of the halfpipe, the last contestant of the competition, needing a near-perfect run to capture his third consecutive gold medal at the Winter Olympics. He has thrived on such moments.

It felt too perfect, too scripted, even by the standards of storytelling that White has inspired. The crowd hushed in anticipation.

White sped down the hill and crested the leading edge of the massive halfpipe and began what was sure to be a monumental run. And that is when it happened -- a hard landing here, a gasp-inducing bobble there, the dominance of the world's greatest halfpipe snowboarder slipping away with each weave downhill.

White ended up in fourth, a placing probably higher than he deserved, ceding the Olympic throne to someone else for the first time since 2002.

"I don't think tonight makes or breaks my career," White said.

It was Iouri Podladtchikov, a Russian-born Swiss -- I-Pod to his friends -- who won the gold medal by doing a trick, the Yolo (1,440 degrees of rotation that includes two aerial somersaults), and a run that White and the others could not match.

Podladtchikov landed it perfectly, anchoring a run that was awarded 94.75 points.

"It really felt like there was no fighting at all," Podladtchikov said. "It felt like it was all meant to be. It's really weird."

Ayumu Hirano, a 15-year-old from Japan, won the silver medal, and his countryman Taku Hiraoka won bronze.

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