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Podladtchikov dethrones White with halfpipe gold

AFP/The Local · 11 Feb 2014, 20:21

Published: 11 Feb 2014 20:21 GMT+01:00

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American White, the two-time defending champion, didn't even make it onto the podium, shunted off by a pair of Japanese teenagers.
Podladtchikov, 25, scored a mammoth 94.75 points with 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano second on 93.50 and 18-year-old Taku Hiraoka third on 92.25.
"I feel like I'm fainting, I haven't eaten much, I really can't believe it," said Podladtchikov, who is known on the snowboarding tour as "I-Pod".

"Everything came together exactly the way I planned it five minutes before and it's weird because it never usually works out," he said.

"In this one it really felt like there was no fighting (to pull off tricks) at all, it felt like it was all meant to be," the Zurich resident said.
"And (I was in) the position where I was throwing down my hardest tricks with ease," he said.

"There are no words for that."
This victory was extra special for Podladtchikov as he was born in Russia to Russian parents before the family emigrated to Switzerland when he was eight.
 "I was really worried about my relatives, they were all really not in a good state, they were done," he said.
"I was trying to calm them down (but) probably you'll have to calm me down after I've had a drink.
"It's insane to be here, I love to be here, I love to speak Russian because it's my mother language and it reminds me of so many things, my childhood.
"When I miss home I miss Switzerland but when I'm here it reminds me of things I almost forget, the kid memories."
Hirano and Hiraoka became the first ever Asian medallists in Olympic snowboarding.
White, who had scored 95.75 in topping the heats, hit the lip of the pipe on his first run and touched down with his backside on his second, finishing fourth with a score of 90.25.
And he said he would now take a break from snowboarding.
"It wasn't my night, which is really tough to say because it's a big night but I'm ok with with it, it's just one of those things," he said.
"I wouldn't say I feel like when I was 15 and didn't make the team but I'm a bit older now and I know where I need to improve," White said.
"I know where to go from here and that's on tour with the band," he said, referring to his musical career.

"I need a little break from snowboarding for a while so hopefully I'll play some music with my friends and go on tour with my band Bad Things, take a breather, refocus and then come back to it," he said.

"That's how it works."

Podladtchikov's gold medal was the second for Switzerland so far at the Sochi Olympics following cross country skier Dario Cologna's first place finish in the 30-kilometres skiathlon on Sunday.

"I-Pod" came fourth in the halfpipe at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

He stunned the snowboarding world last year when he produced the first ever cab double cork 1440, which he named the Yolo flip.

Story continues below…

Podladtchikov performed the stunt in Tuesday's competition but he admitted ahead of time that he hadn't invented any other new manoeuvres.

Another member of the Swiss team, David Hablützel, also from Zurich, finished fifth in the halfpipe on Tuesday.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

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