PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Shaun White, the snowboarding legend, looked to be in top form, scoring the best run of qualifying in the halfpipe event on Tuesday.
White was the 2006 and 2010 halfpipe winner, but a disappointing fourth four years ago.
White, 31, scored a 93.25 on his first qualifying run, best of the field, virtually clinching qualification for the final.
“Oddly enough, I was a little nervous,” White said. “There’s such a build-up to get to the Olympics. People forget you have to qualify. I still had to put that run down. So that took the pressure and the edge off.”
White’s run included a frontside double cork 1080 and a double mctwist 1260.
But two other boarders from a younger generation surpassed him in their second runs. Ayumu Hirano of Japan, 19, who many consider the most dangerous opponent for White, had a best score of 95.25. Hirano is noted for being the first man to land back-to-back 1440s. Then Scotty James of Australia, 23, the two-time world champion who has said the judges unduly favor White, put up a 96.75.
While White was already safely in Wednesday’s final, he did not play it safe on his second run, topping both Harano and James with a near-perfect 98.50. He got three 99s and three 98s from the six judges.