Shaun White, the most decorated Olympic snowboarder ever, has more than likely secured a spot in February's Beijing Games. The three-time gold medalist finished fifth -- and above Chase Blackwell -- in a Switzerland World Cup event Thursday to qualify for the finals, securing his position as the fourth-ranked American in the World Snowboard Points List.
That was the last event to take place before the U.S. chooses its four-person men's halfpipe team ahead of the Games, meaning Blackwell, the fifth-ranked American, cannot pass White before the 2022 Olympics. Taylor Gold, Chase Josey and Lucas Foster are expected to join White in Beijing.
Saturday's 12-man final will pit White against the two snowboarders who finished just behind him in the 2018 PyeongChang Games -- silver medalist Ayumu Hirano from Japan and bronze medalist Scotty James from Australia. It's not quite an apples-to-apples scenario, however, as the 35-year-old White is still working his way back from a bout with COVID-19.
White's COVID-19 symptoms -- light-headedness and "serious fatigue," according to Yahoo -- forced him to withdraw from last week's qualifier in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
February's Olympics will be White's fifth. He broke onto the international stage as a 19-year-old, winning gold in the halfpipe event in Torino 2006. He also claimed halfpipe gold medals in Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. His three gold medals are the most all-time among male Olympic snowboarders.
February's Olympics will also be White's last, as the California native told Rolling Stone he will "for sure" end his Olympic career after Beijing.