Shaun White, Sochi Winter Olympics, Fall

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Shaun White couldn't pull off what would've been his most impressive move yet.

The defending Olympic champion fell during his first run in the snowboarding halfpipe event today in Sochi, crushing his shot at becoming the first American male Olympian to win three straight gold medals in one event.

But the 27-year-old veteran athlete, while surely disappointed, was gracious in defeat.

"Congrats to Iouri," White said, per NBC, referring to winner Iouri Podladtchikov, 25, who competed for Russia at the Turin Olympics but is now representing Switzerland, where he grew up.

Shaun White, Sochi Winter Olympics


"I've ridden with that guy forever and he deserves a big win," White added. "He's so excited, so happy and I'm pumped for the guy. He is a good friend of mine. The first thing he said was, ‘You'd better celebrate with me,' so I said all right, and as much as it's going to break my soul, I'm to go have a drink with him."

Iouri Podladtchikov, Sochi Winter Olympics

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"Judging is so weird these days. When you are under-judged all your life, or over-judged," Podladtchikov said after his golden performance. "You are never sure. I landed the best run of my life, but I'm not sure I'm going to win." 

Ayumu Hirano, 15, and Taku Hiraoka, 18, both of Japan, took home silver and bronze, respectively. White finished in fourth place with a score of 90.25.

Ayumu Hirano, Iouri Podladtchikov, Taku Hiraoka, Sochi Winter Olympics

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White, who withdrew from the first-ever slopestyle snowboarding event that helped kick off the Games last week, posted a thank-you video to his fans before he headed out to compete today.

"Well, I guess this is interesting for me because I've never really taken the time to thank my fans before a competition and everyone who supported me along the way," White said. "I can't do it without you. You're the best.

"Halfpipe Finals is tomorrow. I'm beside myself. I want to do the best, not only for myself, but for you guys. So, wish me luck and here we go!"

Speed-skater Shani Davis remains the only male member of Team USA with a chance at pulling off the one-event three-peat should he win the 1,000-meter event on Wednesday.

White's fall came on a day that was historic for another reason: Carina Vogt of Germany became the first-ever gold medalist in the brand-new women's ski jump event. Until this year, Olympic ski jumping had been a solely male event since the first Winter Games in 1924.

Carina Vogt, Sochi Winter Olympics


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