The end of an utterly remarkable career is coming for Shaun White, and for a few minutes on day five of the Olympics, it appeared closer than ever.
After taking a tough fall in his first run — during his signature trick, the Double McTwist 1260 — the 35-year-old lined up at the top of the ramp for what could have been his last-ever Olympic run, and possibly his final competitive run ever.
The three-time gold medalist in halfpipe, who's seeking an unprecedented fourth gold medal in the event, fell far short of a top-12 score he needed to move on after his first fall. By the time his second opportunity arrived, he had to put up a 74 or better to secure his spot in the finals.
Like so many times before, White delivered just the clutch run he needed.
As fans staying up late back home watched with bated breath, the Team USA snowboarder executed his tricks one by one in smooth succession. He nailed the Double McTwist 1260 this time around and cruised to the finish, notching a score of 86.25 to easily place him among the final competitors.
White's score eventually placed him fourth, while Ayumu Hirano of Japan sat atop the leaderboard with a score of 93.25.
The only "fourth" White is gunning for in the event, of course, is a fourth gold.
"The Olympics, I mean, it doesn't get any bigger, White said after he competed, beaming as his spot was locked up.
"For finals, we’re not holding back. Everything we’ve got. For me especially, I’m going to throw everything I got at it and see what happens."
The final of the men's halfpipe takes place on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.