In retrospect, the haircut might have been a bad idea.
Tonight’s biggest Sochi story: The sad saga of two-time Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White, which NBC is hoping fervently you hadn’t heard about before primetime. The Flying Tomato came to Russia hoping to add another gold medal to his collection — but will leave instead with a disappointing fourth-place finish. Was White’s downfall telegraphed when he sheared off his glorious, Sampson-esque locks? Could a subpar halfpipe course — riddled with bumps and slushy patches — be to blame? Was snowboard’s elder statesman simply no match for a younger, dashing Swiss-Russian armed with an awesome nickname (I-Pod), a hashtag-inspired signature move (the “YOLO Flip”), and his own striking head of hair?
The world may never know. In the end, all that matters is that White had a killer run in the event’s qualifying round — scoring a spectacular 95.75 — but failed to impress in the finals, handing the victory to 25-year-old Orlando Bloom lookalike Iouri Podladtchikov. The Swiss boarder’s winning run scored a 94.75; if White had flipped and landed as well as he did earlier in the day, he’d have gotten that threepeat. But even if you’re a White fan, it’s tough to grumble about I-Pod’s triumph. Just look how ecstatic he was to snag the gold!