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White's spectacular in winning halfpipe gold

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia - How 'bout that!

Putting on a show when he didn't even have to, Shaun White capped his gold-medal night on the halfpipe with his signature trick last night - the dangerous, spiraling Double McTwist 1260 during a victory lap that will go down as nothing short of sensational.

The redhead scored a 48.4 on the final run, even though he was already assured of defending his Olympic title with a score of 46.8 on his first trip. Getting ready to close the night, he debated with his coaches for a minute, then made the decision to go for it.

And he did - jerking his body around to milk the last half of the 3 1/2 twists he crams into two head-over-heels flips.

Wearing a white-and-blue bandanna that goes perfectly with the red hair, White easily outdistanced Finland's Peetu Piiroinen. American Scotty Lago took bronze to give the United States multiple medals on the halfpipe for the last three Olympics. Including the women, the U.S. halfpipe team has won 12 of the 21 medals awarded since the sport came to the games in 1998.

But has there ever been a bigger snowboarding star than White? He's the multimillionaire who somehow flashes a businessman's smarts without losing touch with the culture that defines snowboarding - the only sport that would think of bringing snow pants designed to look like torn-up jeans to the Olympic Games.

He keeps it fresh and keeps people guessing.

He skipped the Double McTwist on the first run down the mountain, saying in an interview, "I know I have it in me, but the Olympics is pretty heavy. I was sweating it a little."

Soaring through the crisp, clear, Canadian sky, he flew 25 feet above the halfpipe at the top, linked a pair of spiraling, double-flipping moves in the middle and stayed on his feet the whole way down.

Why does he win? NBC spelled it out in living color, transposing the shots of White's straight air and that of one of the medal contenders, Iouri Podladtchikov - the "I-Pod." Suffice to say that had they actually been jumping at the same time, White would have landed on I-Pod's head.

"That's what Shaun does," said Louie Vito, who finished fifth. "He can go up there and lay down a run and take care of business. That's why he is who he is."

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