American snowboarder Shaun White will be one of the most recognizable names at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and it could be the last time we see him competing for Olympic gold.
But the 31-year-old White nearly saw his Olympic dreams get crushed thanks to a brutal crash that left him battered and bloody. Back in October, White took a hard slam while training on a 22-foot Olympic superpipe in New Zealand. A miscalculation on a difficult trick attempt led to White slamming his face off the rim of the pipe. Even though he was wearing a helmet at the time, White suffered significant damage to his face.
He was taken from the scene via helicopter to a hospital 186 miles away, where he underwent surgery and required 62 stitches to close the wounds on his face. All in all, the repairs required White to stay in the hospital for five days.
Not long after the surgery, the snowboard and skateboard vet shared a photo from his hospital bed depicting the damage.
I’ve always lived my life by pushing the limits. Winning is great, but it’s the tough times that truly define you. I took a slam while training the other day, but don’t worry I’ll be back soon and better than ever!! Thanks @beatsbydre for bringing me into the family. #NormalisBoring #1of1 #RockNRoll
But video of the incident hadn't been shared publicly until Thursday, when Yahoo! Sports released exclusive footage of the crash as part of their eight-episode series documenting White's journey back to the Olympics. The video (and the accompanying photos) aren't for the faint of heart.
Thankfully, White made a recovery from the nasty crash and is expected compete in Pyeongchang when the Olympics begin next month -- given he makes the United States team. After finishing as the second American in the first Olympic qualiifier, at Copper Mountain, Colo., in early December he scrubbed landings on each of his two runs in the prelims at the following qualifier, in Breckenridge, failing to make the final with a 14th-place finish. He'll have two more shots to lock up his bid, the first coming next weekend at the Grand Prix in Snowmass, Colo., which is the third of four Olympic qualifiers for halfpipe leading up the PyeongChang Olympics, which begin Feb. 9 in South Korea.
White is one of the most decorated snowboarders in the history of the sport and will be vying to add to the two Olympic gold medals he already possesses from the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games. White had a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.