US luger Emily Sweeney thrown from sled

US luger Emily Sweeney thrown from sled
NBC’s botched attempt to ignore the sexual harassment allegations against Shaun White
nShare Share Shaun White was sued for sexual harassment. NBC would rather not talk about it. tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Ian MacNicol/Getty Images When Shaun White won his third Olympic gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games on February 13 after completing a gravity-defying performance on the halfpipe, the NBC announcers were ready.

“The return of the king in the men’s halfpipe!” one crowed, as an ecstatic White pumped his fists in triumph. “White is the new gold!”

In the build up to this final I discussed at length Shaun’s ability to mentally over power his rivals before he has even strapped in. I think there is an argument to say that Scotty James was psychologically beaten in Snowmass and that he was only ever riding for Silver or Bronze here. He would obviously deny that, but the way in which he magnanimously congratulated Shaun as the scores came in suggested to me that he had accepted his fate long before this contest started and the righteous rage he has wielded at judges and fellow competitors is nothing more than a tool, out of exactly the same box as the outrageous claims that many of the riders seem to have been working on in preparation for the games and pull out on completion of even the most average runs.

This moment, as both White and NBC will tell you at a moment’s notice, was a long time in the making. After White dominated the sport with two back-to-back gold medals in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, he faltered in 2014, coming in a disappointing fourth place. In the fall of 2017, he crashed into the halfpipe on a practice run in New Zealand, eventually requiring 62 stitches in his face just months before he was set to return to the Olympics. So in 2018, 12 years after he first hit the Olympics slopes with his signature tomato red hair flying through the frigid air, a more subdued and determined 31-year-old White took to the slopes with a purpose: to reclaim the gold medal he had let slip through his fingers four years ago.

But there is another aspect of White’s journey back to the Olympics podium that he’s not exactly keen to acknowledge.

Tomorrow you can pour over the clues that were offered by Andrew Hourmont, Shaun’s fellow stake holder in Air and Style, being one of the first to congratulate him. No doubt they are over the moon that their investment in the Secret Garden, China’s first super pipe facility, has just doubled in value. But for now you have let go of the politics and accept that Shaun White is the greatest halfpipe snowboarder of all time and the way in which he won his third Gold medal offered one of the greatest spectacles that snowboarding has ever witnessed.

In 2016, White’s former bandmate Lena Zawaideh sued him for wrongful termination and sexual harassment. The suit alleged that White had “repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years,” leading to her abrupt dismissal from the band in 2014 without the payment she was owed. Zawaideh said that White forced her to watch sexually explicit videos against her wishes, texted and spoke degrading comments to her, and “at one point, White stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.”

Of course there has been no shortage of hate. There were claims of boot and body grabs, but I can reveal these are just conspiracy. The judges who have the best access to replays and the most to lose studied replays instantly. They searched valiantly for indiscretions, but repeated views showed that all of the spins were free of body grabs and the one suspected boot grab was nothing more than the glove touching the boot as the grab was released.
NBC's botched attempt to ignore the sexual harassment allegations against Shaun White
NBC’s botched attempt to ignore the sexual harassment allegations against Shaun White

Let Go of the Politics and Accept That Shaun White is the Greatest Halfpipe Snowboarder of all Time

At the time, White denied everything but the texts — which TMZ obtained — and called the lawsuit “bogus,” with his lawyer saying that there was “absolutely no coincidence to the timing of her claims, and we will defend them vigorously in court.”

Ayumu Hirano should be playing poker, not snowboarding. He gave absolutely nothing away, there was neither joy or disappointment evident when Shaun’s winning score was announced so it is impossible to surmise anything other than the fact that no matter what he does, no matter how hard he pushes, no matter how high he goes Shaun is prepared to go further.
Shaun White was sued for sexual harassment. NBC would rather not talk about it.
Shaun White was sued for sexual harassment. NBC would rather not talk about it.

The lawsuit was settled in 2017, but in light of the ongoing #MeToo reckoning that’s been holding up sexual harassment and abuse claims to renewed scrutiny, its place in White’s past has come up again. This disturbing bump in White’s road to reclamation of Olympic gold has complicated a story that was otherwise supposed to be a straightforward comeback tale — and neither White nor NBC were prepared to acknowledge it.

Shaun White says he’s a ‘changed person’ amid resurfaced misconduct allegations

When White was asked in a press conference after his gold medal run whether he was worried the lawsuit might “tarnish his legacy,” his answer was an attempt at diplomacy that quickly backfired due to some seriously questionable word choice.

What the fuck is Shaun White on? Are there new performance enhancing drugs that no one knows about that are essentially brain steroids? The self belief, confidence and determination Shaun displayed today suggest he is functioning with an extra strand of DNA the rest of us don’t possess.

“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” White said. “I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am, and my friends love me and vouch for me, and I think that stands on its own.”

VideosScotty James and Ayumu Hirano Full Qualifying Runs From Men’s Halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics

That answer did not, in fact, stand on its own, since the reporter who initially asked the question tried to follow up by asking if “gossip” is truly how White sees allegations that resulted in a public lawsuit. The moderator in turn cut off the reporter by responding that “we’re here to talk about the gold medal and the amazing day we had today” — a line he repeated when the next journalist tried to ask the same question. (For what it’s worth, USA Today reporter Christine Brennan has since said that not one female journalist got to ask White a question throughout the 13-minute press conference, despite many having their hands in the air.)

#2018 Winter Olympics #24hr #Ayumu Hirano #Exclusives #Featured #featured videos #Scotty James #Shaun White

The response to White’s brush-off was swift, skeptical, and deeply annoyed. In a scathing column, Brennan called the allegations “incredibly disturbing” and asked why they weren’t being taken more seriously. “If we’ve learned anything about the #MeToo movement,” she wrote, “it’s that we should listen to every allegation and go to great lengths to find out what happened, even with an Olympic hero such as White.”

It didn’t take long for White to backtrack with an apology — for his word choice. “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip,” he said when Savannah Guthrie asked him about it the next morning on the Today show (where she’s taken the lead after longtime anchor Matt Lauer was fired for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace). “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.”

PhotosThe Final Olympic Qualifier for Team USA—Slopestyle and Superpipe Highlights From Mammoth Mountain

Everything you need to know about Shaun White sexual harassment allegations

“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip. It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.” @shaunwhite on his remarks at news conference when asked about harassment case pic.twitter.com/5q9jyCL61m

PhotosDC Transitors in Japan: Mega Gallery with Devun Walsh, Anto Chamberland, Torstein Horgmo, and More

For NBC, the Olympics are a godsend: two and a half weeks of prime programming and access to its stars that no other network can or will ever have. In fact, NBC’s dominance during the Olympics is so complete that most broadcast networks barely bother to keep up, putting much of their usual programming on hold until the Olympic storm blows over.

PhotosDC Transitors in Japan: Mega Gallery with Devun Walsh, Anto Chamberland, Torstein Horgmo, and More

To capitalize on their unbeatable get, NBC crafts its Olympics coverage to best capture the nation’s attention. It embraces breakout stars like fiercely outspoken figure skater Adam Rippon and buoyant snowboarder Chloe Kim, and hoards the events that viewers are most interested in staying up through hours of coverage for, no matter what.

But nothing says “Olympics” quite like a comeback story, and so NBC plays those up whenever it can — even when that comeback isn’t exactly an athlete overcoming incredible adversity to come out on top.

Take, for instance, swimming golden boy Michael Phelps. When the athlete who was once a teen phenom struggled to replicate his historic earlier victories — including a record-shattering 18 gold medals over three Olympics — the lead-up to his return in the 2016 Olympics was peppered with profiles about his comeback and the lengths he was going to in order to make it happen. Buried in platitudes about hard work was the truth of the matter, which is that an aimless Phelps had become dependent on alcohol to the point that he pleaded guilty to drunk driving in 2014 and checked himself into rehab.

PhotosRed Gerard Strikes Gold, Wins Snowboarding Slopestyle at 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang

While Phelps himself has been remarkably open about this time in his life, you’d be forgiven for not knowing the details if you only watched the NBC coverage of his return in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The network largely opted to avoid specifics, instead flattening the swimmer’s turbulent history into generalized anecdotes about him pulling himself up by his bootstraps.

The same held true for White as he hurled himself back down the Olympics halfpipe in Pyeongchang, the NBC commentators holding their breath for a win. As NBC told it, this was a comeback story about a guy who faltered on his way back up to the top, whose fourth-place finish and terrible accident motivated “the return of the king.” That he had been publicly accused of taking out his frustration about that fourth-place finish on a woman was not, apparently, much of a factor.

Hirano can take solace in the fact that he solidified himself as one of the future faces of snowboarding. The 19-year-old nearly unseated an Olympian that he grew up watching. Although silver will feel like a consolation prize for someone as competitive (if understated) as Hirano clearly is, he’ll unquestionably be back on the scene, and soon.

So it’s not especially surprising that when Guthrie brought up the allegations to White’s face, it wasn’t in the context of #MeToo, but rather about the bad press his word choice had drawn. “Do you have anything you’d like to say about that and kind of clear the air?” Guthrie asked, to which White delivered his apology with the practiced ease of someone who has been giving interviews his entire adult life.

“There are no big differences between us, what we did,” Hirano said. “Under this condition, on this pipe it’s very, very difficult to mark higher than [White] did. But perhaps I have some room to improve on the height and the perfectness, perfect landing.”

Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: Shaun White Is Golden With Crazy Olympic Halfpipe Run

In fact, as he reminded Guthrie while apologizing, many of those interviews have been given to NBC over a period of 12 years. “You’ve known me for a long time now,” White said. “It’s amazing how life works with twists and turns and lessons learned.”

Hirano wasn’t the only one who believed it was a coin flip. Bronze medalist Scotty James — a bitter rival of White’s — cryptically said that “It could have gone either way” when he was asked about the scoring, via The Washington Post.

It’s impossible to say for certain whether Guthrie or NBC would have brought up the allegations had White not been pressed on them already. But given the symbiotic relationship between Olympic star athletes and the glowing coverage that launches them, it’s unlikely that either would have been eager to tarnish that dynamic with something as ugly as sexual harassment.

The ugly story of Shaun White’s sexual-harassment lawsuit and trying to reconcile it with his Olympic gold

SI-share-whatsapp Created with Sketch. A look at Shaun White’s record-setting third gold medal by the numbers.

This comes at a time where snowboarders have questioned if White is favored by judging. However, one fact remains true: His final run was utterly insane. It’s true that it could have gone either way, but it went this way.

With his victory in the snowboarding halfpipe on Wednesday night in PyeongChang, Shaun White set milestones in U.S. and Olympic history.

His final score of 97.75 secured him his third Olympic gold medal and completed the comeback after a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James finished second and third for silver and bronze, respectively.

“Yes, I do, but the result is the result,” he said per ESPN when he was asked if he deserved gold. “And whatever I do, whatever I say, the result cannot be changed.”

With some help from Olympic historian Bill Mallon, here’s a look at how Shaun White made history:

PyeongChang Olympics Medal Count: USA Wins 100th Gold Medal in History After Day 5

• White’s medal is the 100th by the United States in Olympic history. The first gold medal was won by Charley Jewtraw in the 500 meter speed skating event at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France.

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• He became the first snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals. He tied fellow American Kelly Clark as the first snowboarder to win three Olympic medals in their respective careers. Clark won a gold medal in the women’s half pipe at the 2002 Olympics and then a bronze medal at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics for the halfpipe.

Hirano didn’t, ultimately washing out, and after White’s final run he credited the gutty performance.

• While there were many people tossing around the goat emoji for White on Twitter, White sits third on the U.S. all-time list for most Winter Olympic gold medals. Eric Heiden has five gold medals from his sweep of the speed skating events at the 1980 Games. Bonnie Blair has five gold medals from speed skating as well.

• White is the first American man to win gold medals at three Winter Olympics. Bonnie Blair accomplished the feat with her gold medals at the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Olympics. White and Blair are the only U.S. athletes to medal three times in the same event at the Winter Olympics. Apolo Anton Ohno also medaled at the three Olympics but they were not all gold.

• White went 12 years between his first gold medal, which came at the 2006 Olympics, and his third medal. That marks a U.S. record for most years between golds. 

Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal
Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal

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Mallon has more in-depth stats on his blog post, which I highly encourage you to keep tabs on if you’re an Olympics junkie. Mallon unfortunately was diagnosed with a small stroke while in South Korea and headed home for the remainder of the Games. He appears to be feeling better and tweeted a quote from 1912 Olympian George S. Patton explaining why he’s still blogging: “I love it. God help me, I do love it so.”

Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal
Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal

• For the first time since 1998, the United States hockey team dropped its opener at the Olympics. The U.S. lost 3–2 in overtime to Slovenia. Jan Mursak scored the game-winning goal 38 seconds into overtime. The U.S. will look to rebound against Slovakia on Friday.

Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal
Wednesday Olympic Daily Digest: How Shaun White Enters The History Books With His Third Gold Medal

• Heather Richardson Bergsma, who is the reigning world champion in speedskating’s 1,000 meter distance, finished eighth in the final. She also finished eighth in the 1,500 meters. Bergsma has 34 World Cup medals at 1,000 meters including 20 gold. She will also race the 500 meters on Sunday, which is the third of five events for her at this Olympics. Jorien ter Mors won the gold medal in an Olympic record and kept the Netherlands at 5-for-5 in speedskating gold medals.

Shaun White Apologizes For Dismissing Sexual Misconduct Allegations as ‘Gossip’ (UPDATED)

 • China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han are in first place following the pairs figure skating short program.

After yet another delay, Mikaela Shiffrin will make her PyeongChang debut three days after initially expected after the giant slalom race was postponed due to dangerous winds. Shiffrin is one of the biggest American stars of this year’s Winter Games since becoming the youngest Olympic slalom champion at 18 years old in 2014. Since Sochi, she continued making history by becoming the first woman to win three slalom world titles in 78 years. She could become the first woman to win the slalom gold medal in consecutive Olympic games.

There is no true American threat for the medals in the men’s downhill but Austria’s Matthias Mayer is the reigning Olympic champion looking to make history as the first man to win back-to-back golds. Keep an eye on Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who is the world champion in the event.

Scotty James claims the bronze medal in the Winter Olympics snowboard half-pipe final

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are the lone U.S. pair in PyeongChang and will compete in their free skate. 

The United States women get a rematch against Canada in group play. Canada is the four-time defending Olympic champion but the United States has won the last three IIHF Women’s World Championship titles. The U.S. women opened play with a 5–0 victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

I like curling, it’s less wear and tear on the body. I wrestled, boxed, and studied martial arts. I have nothing else to prove. Therefore I choose curling. #curlingiscoolfool

Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones was the star of the Rio Olympics and landed a gig with NBC for Pyeongchang. Mr. T is on his way to getting a job with them for Tokyo 2020.

• Michael Rosenberg on Shaun White rekindling that feeling of invincibility in his gold medal redemption tour.

• ​ Tim Layden on whether the delays could hurt or help Mikaela Shiffrin’s quest for gold.

Snowboarding: White delivers again to win third halfpipe gold

• Alice Park on the performance of the North Korean skaters and the size of their cheering section, highlighting an entertaining night of figure skating.

Shaun White wins gold medal in men’s half-pipe with near-perfect run in dramatic finish

• Layden introduces you to Codie Bascue, who is USA’s fearless bobsled driver who hails from a remote town that’s never had an Olympian until now

Back to his roots: Shaun White aims for 2020 Tokyo Olympics — as a skateboarder

If you’ve been having fun rooting for U.S. snowboarders, Mick Dierdorff and Hagen Kearney should be next on your list. They will go for gold in the snowboard cross final and appear to be long shots for the gold medal. Pierre Vaultier of France won the world championships last year and looks to defend his Olympic gold medal. Kearney was seventh at worlds last year. 

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Shaun White captures gold with monster third run

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