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2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Shaun White?

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 2:28 PM

What You Need To Know About Shaun White

Shaun White, 31, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe. No male snowboarder has more than two medals. 

White has competed in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. He competed sparingly since 2014, focusing on his business ventures.

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White was born on Sept. 3, 1986, in San Diego. He had a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and had two major surgeries before his first birthday. In his younger years, White had to wear corrective leg braces at night because he had bow legs. 

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White began skiing during his family’s twice-a-year trips to Mammoth, California. He wanted to start snowboarding lessons when he was 6 years old, but resort rules said he had to be 12. Instead, White and his father took a lesson to learn how to get on a snowboard.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Professional snowboarder Shaun White attends the VIP sneak peek of the go90 Social Entertainment Platform at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on September 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for go90)(John Sciulli/Getty Images for go90)

At age 7, he won his first amateur contest. His win earned him a wild card to the national championships, where he finished 11th

White's snowboarding career cost his parents $20,000 a year, putting a financial strain on his family. During the early days of his career, the family would drive to Mammouth, a six-hour drive, every Friday in their 1964 Econoline van. The entire family would sleep in the van in place of paying for a hotel room.

White turned pro at 13. 

Torino 2006

White was considered the favorite to take gold after entering the 2006 Torino Games, where he did not disappoint. White, then 19 years old, racked up 46.8 out of 50 points in the first run of the final round by landing back-to-back 1080s followed by a pair of 900s. 

Vancouver 2010
White entered the Vancouver 2010 games as one of the most recognizable athletes at the games. White clinched the gold medal with his first two runs in the final with back-to-back double corks and that earned him 46.8 out of 50 points. His win boosted him from No. 51 to No. 2 on the "Bloomberg Power 100" list of the most marketable athletes in the country.

Sochi 2014

White entered the Sochi Games as a two-time defending Olympic halfpipe champion. He attempted to become the first American man to win the same event three Winter Games in a row. He was supposed to compete in both the halfpipe and slopestyle, but pulled out of slopestyle less than 24 hours before start time. He wanted to focus on the halfpipe and wanted to avoid injury. White left Sochi empty-handed after finishing fourth.

2016-17 season

White had ankle surgery in 2016 after a training session in New Zealand. He said his ankle was bothering him for years. He had a piece of chipped bone removed.

White debuted at the U.S. Grand Prix after returning from his ankle surgery but did not qualify for the final. He had a strong showing at the Olympic Test Event later that month. White scored 95 in his best of three runs but was beaten by Australia's Scotty James by one point in the final run. White defeated James several weeks later at the U.S. Open.

Other interesting facts:
  • He has an event series (Air + Style), a men's clothing line (WHT SPACE) and is part-owner of Mammoth Mountain, where he grew up riding. 
  • First athlete to win gold at both the Winter and Summer X Games in skateboarding.
  • Won a record 18 medals, including 13 gold, at the Winter X Games, the biggest snowboarding event besides the Olympics.
  • Won five X Games medals in skateboarding.
  • Scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix event in January 2018.
  • Attempted to qualify for the 2002 Olympics in halfpipe at the age of 15, but narrowly failed to make the team. 

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All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 7:48 AM

Tempers Flare During Olympic Curling Match

Few people quite understand what exactly curling is, but every four years, people across the world suddenly find themselves invested in a sport that, at first glance, can be described as people pushing rocks across ice with brooms.

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For those who are using this year’s go-around to learn what they can about the sport, here’s a fun fact to tell at the next watch party: Olympic curling rocks aren’t just any old bits of earth; they all come from the exact same kind of stone from the exact same place.

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According to the Huffington Post, the curling stones are made from a specific kind of granite that can only be located on a deserted island off the coast of Scotland. 

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The island — Ailsa Craig, also known as “Paddy’s milestone” — is a volcanic plug, meaning it coalesced over an extinct volcano, apparently leaving the granite in the perfect condition to make curling stones. All the stones used during the Olympic Winter Games are produced by the only company with rights to the Ailsa Craig granite: Kays of Scotland, which has been creating the stones since 1851. According to the Huffington Post, thousands of tons of two varieties of stone are removed from the ground once every decade: a blue hone granite, which is impenetrable by ice and water and makes up the insert and running band of the curling stone, and a green granite that composes the body of the stone. There is apparently a third variety, red hone granite, but it isn’t used in curling stones.

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Adam Rippon won’t be joining NBC as 2018 Olympics correspondent after all 

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 12:59 PM

What You Need To Know About Adam Rippon

Audiences won’t be seeing much more of Adam Rippon during the 2018 Winter Olympics after all.

USA Today previously reported that the 28-year-old figure skater had accepted a job as a correspondent with NBC, but it appears Rippon has changed his mind.

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Rippon’s decision to decline the offer stems from the fact that he would have to relinquish certain privileges were he to make the jump from Olympian to TV correspondent.

“I am so flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent, but if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team and I would have to leave the (Olympic) Village,” Rippon initially said in an interview with NBC Sports Network, via USA Today. “It’s so important to me, you know. I worked so hard to be on this Olympic team, and my teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that meant so much to me, that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events.”

Related: 2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Adam Rippon?

Rippon said on Twitter he found out about the offer on the social media platform. He also repeated similar comments about his decision to turn down the offer.

Rippon, the first openly gay athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics, has garnered the attention of milllions through his candid and colorful interviews. He earned a bronze medal in team competition, and he finished in 10th place in the singles competition, a big accomplishment that has left him extremely proud.

“To come away from this Olympic Games to skate three clean programs in the midst of what seems like a lot going on, and a top-10 finish in the individual event and a bronze medal (in the team event), I think this is sort of like a dream Olympic Games for me,” Rippon told reporters after his men’s free skate event Saturday. “I think I’ve shown the world that I’m a fierce competitor, but I think I’ve shown them that I’m also a fierce human being.”

While he’s used his platform as an Olympic athlete to speak out against Vice President Mike Pence and his stances on the LGBT community, Rippon doesn’t want his sexuality to distract from the person he is.

“I’ve gotten a lot of attention I think just for being myself. I think that a lot of people, when they come to a competition, are afraid to be themselves no matter who they are,” he said. “I think one thing that I want people to come away with from this competition is that I’m not a gay icon or America’s gay sweetheart — I’m just America’s sweetheart, and I’m just an icon. And if you have a personality like mine, it’s for everybody.”

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Here's why Olympic figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu's fans throw Winnie the Pooh bears on the ice

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 7:50 AM

A skating girl collects Winnie The Pooh toys off the ice following Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan's performance during the men's short program figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Julie Jacobson/AP
A skating girl collects Winnie The Pooh toys off the ice following Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan's performance during the men's short program figure skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)(Julie Jacobson/AP)

In one of the strangest stories that we’ve seen out of the 2018 Winter Olympics, beloved bear Winnie the Pooh is making a comeback.

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The lovable bear is the unofficial mascot of Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. Every time Hanyu takes to the ice, he keeps a stuffed bear on the side of the rink for good luck, often bowing to the toy before performing, Time magazine reported. Fans know of Hanyu's love for the character and throw Winnie the Pooh bears onto the rink. The carefree bear has proved to be a pretty effective spirit animal for Hanyu, who is considered by some to be the best figure skater in history.

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And the bears aren’t wasted, either. After Hanyu leaves the ice, the stuffed animals are collected and donated to local charities.

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The 23-year-old won a gold medal in Pyeongchang on Saturday, making him the first male skater since 1952 to win back-to-back Olympic golds. In a New York Times profile of the star, the paper wrote that thousands of Hanyu’s fans traveled to South Korea to see him compete. Some of them wore Winnie the Pooh hats while others donned Winnie the Pooh costumes.

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And the story of Hanyu’s gold medal performance has the kind of storybook twists and turns that you might expect from something a lot more dramatic than Winnie the Pooh. In the months leading up the games, when he should have been entering his final round of preparation, Hanyu suffered an injury to his ankle that threatened his performance. But, in a comeback story for the ages, the Japanese star managed to return with a vengeance, cementing himself as the greatest ice skater in the world. And, Winnie the Pooh was there on the sidelines for the entire thing.

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Olympic figure skater Paul Fentz wows with 'Game of Thrones' costume

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 6:59 AM

Paul Fentz of Germany performs during the men's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/AP
Paul Fentz of Germany performs during the men's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash/AP)

“Game of Thrones” fans from around the world were loving German Olympic figure skater Paul Fentz’s costume at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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Fentz was clearly not on the fence when it came to a tribute to the character Jaime Lannister, and neither were people on the internet when it came to voicing positive opinions about it.

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The Olympian also skated to the “Game of Thrones” soundtrack.

Here's what fans had to say:

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Even commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were into it.

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“It was not his best, but a Lannister always pays his debts,” Lipinski said. “This music gets me.”

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