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Winter Olympics Day 6: US crushes with double mctwists and downhill dominance

The US won a record six medals in one day Wednesday, including three ascendant performances for gold by Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis, and Shaun White.

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Check and check. They even held an American flag together on the podium without prompting or outright bribery from Bob Costas or Shani Junior.

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First, Bode Miller becomes all warm and cuddly. Now, Shani Davis?

What is this world coming to?

The only constant in a Winter Olympic world gone mad, perhaps, is the Flying Tomato (a.k.a. Shaun White, a.k.a. the Animal). Here is world domination that America can comprehend without flash cards or smelling salts. After all, we’ve always been good at this.

Canada might have invented modern hockey, and Norsemen might have invented virtually every winter sport that America is bad at, but we invented the halfpipe and the slacker Olympian.

Or did we?

For those determined to see the stereotype in him, White makes it easy, speaking in dude-isms and spending a seemingly inordinate amount of time in the act of grooming.

But what about that last run Wednesday night – the one that he really didn’t need to make because his first run was already good enough for gold?

It was a tableau of the inner Animal, a testament to an athlete determined to reach perfection with every impeccable hand grab and pinwheeling trip out of the pipe.

Out of a perfect 50, White scored a 48.4 – the closest Olympic snowboarding has come to its Nadia Comaneci moment.

In the end, White had the best two runs of the final, meaning that he should appeal to the International Olympic Committee for the gold and the silver.

“What separates Shaun is his focus and his motivation,” said bronze medalist Scotty Lago after the event. “He is a perfectionist.”

After his only loss of the year, White canceled a trip home to visit his family and instead traveled to Park City, Utah, the next day, where he began to teach himself the signature trick no one else in the world can do, the double McTwist 1260 – two flips and 3-1/2 twists (all in the air, mind you).

In the end, his domination of the snowboarding circuit is so comprehensive that he didn’t need it. But in his second, “victory lap” run, he threw it in as his last trick, landing it despite not really having the speed he needed.

“That showed the power of his will to get that trick done,” said coach Bud Keene.

The power of a snowboarder’s will.

Before Shaun White, that might have seemed like a misprint. Kind of like the United States winning six Winter Olympic medals in one day.


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