Shaun White

Why Thursday Night Will be Big for Shaun White, No Matter What Happens

The world will be watching as Shaun White hits the slopes at the 2022 Winter Olympics, but not just to see if he can make history with another gold medal. They'll be watching because it will be the last time they can.

White, who is arguably the world’s best snowboarder, will drop into the halfpipe for the final time Thursday as the three-time Olympic gold medalist competes in his last Olympic Games - and possibly, his last competition ever.

"I think this will be my, well this will be my last competition too, which is pretty special," White, 35, told a news conference earlier in the Games.

But beyond just wanting to end his legendary career on a golden note, White could also cap things off by making Olympic history.

The United States snowboarder, who has competed in the half-pipe event in the last four Olympics, made it to the 2022 Games as one of the final qualifiers in his sport, and now the 35-year-old is hoping that he can nab a fourth and final gold medal.

If he manages to win gold in Beijing, he will become the only athlete to capture four golds in the same event.

But he'll need to go big to do it - and that comes with a huge risk.

White has consistently broken records and defied laws of gravity with his stunts since the beginning of his Olympic journey 16 years ago. Although stunts become more difficult with age, repeating the same tricks won’t be enough to relive that same Olympic glory one more time.

White’s rival in Beijing, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, recently topped his gold-winning move after landing a triple cork 1440 in competition, becoming to the first snowboarder to ever do so.

White told NBC News’ Tom Llamas that he attempted the trick in 2013 but took a hard fall and ended up in the hospital.

“I think I was two and a half flips and realized I wasn’t in a good position,” White said. “I opened up and caught the top of the wall.”

The devastating clip, which was featured in White’s 2014 documentary “Russia Calling,” showed him summersaulting through the air before tumbling down the halfpipe and laying motionless in the snow.

Although the triple cork 1440 is a stunt that White says he is not looking forward to, he knows he needs it to top his competition this time around.

"For finals, we’re not holding back," he said. "Everything we’ve got. For me especially, I’m going to throw everything I got at it and see what happens."

White's 2022 Olympic journey got off to a nail-biting start.

After taking a tough fall in his first run during qualifications this week while attempting his signature trick, the Double McTwist 1260, White 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.

He recovered in his second run, nailing his second attempt at his signature Double McTwist 1260 to notch a score of 86.25. The fourth-place finish put him among the top-12 competitors that advanced to Thursday's medal round.

Now, the only "fourth" White is gunning for in the event, of course, is a fourth gold.

The final of the men's halfpipe takes place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Date/TimeEventNetwork/Stream
Thu, 2/10
7:30p CT
🏅 Men’s Halfpipe FinalNBC | PeacockNBCOlympics.com
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