PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - American Shaun White may have delivered a perfect halfpipe performance to qualify for the Pyeongchang Olympics but the two-time Olympic gold medallist said on Thursday the best was yet to come.
The undisputed champion and poster boy for his sport for a decade, White surprisingly lost out on the medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, finishing fourth in the halfpipe.
But he is now gearing up for his fourth Olympics with what he hopes will be his best performance yet.
”After Sochi it was a nice eye opener for me,“ he told reporters. ”That bubble was kind of shattered and I had to say ‘what do I want to next’.
The 31-year-old American, once known as the ‘flying tomato’ for his shock of ginger hair, scored a perfect 100 to win at the U.S. Grand Prix in Snowmass, Colorado last month and earn qualification for Pyeongchang.
“I don’t think we’ve seen my best run. Actually I know,” he said.
“It’s like I said, it’s not just about one big trick, it’s about the whole run and I definitely have a couple of things in mind that I’ve been working on that I like to iron out and here’s the time to basically do it and try to put it in my run.”
White has had a rocky preparation for the Games needing 62 stitches to his face after a horrific training crash in New Zealand late last year.
He then skipped the X Games, drained by an illness, after qualifying for the Olympics.
“I took my time getting better and I feel great. Now I get the chance to show my best,” said White, adding his biggest challenge was not his fitness.
“Honestly you know, the biggest hurdle to clear was just the mental game. Physically I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt before,” he said, seated at a news conference with the entire U.S. halfpipe team.
”I feel more like I know who I am and I know my riding and my abilities. It’s just the kind of mental mindset of having won and then having to win after winning and win again after winning.
“It is a great problem to have, but it’s finding that motivation, it’s finding that drive.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury