ASPEN — Dressed in all black, a brilliant Shaun White took the early lead in the Winter X Games superpipe Sunday night and never backed off the gas on his way to a record sixth consecutive X Games gold medal in the event.
With a 21-foot air on the first hit of his first spin down the pipe and a series of technical tricks — including his famous double McTwist into a stylish alley-oop backside rodeo — the six-peating White scored a 95 that no other contenders approached.
"Six years ... it's a pretty humbling title to hold," White said at Buttermilk. "Next year, going for the seventh is going to be pretty intense too."
On his second run, White upped his game with an X Games-record, 24-foot backside first hit and stuck a momentous run culminating in a frontside double-cork 1260 to earn an unbeatable 98 points.
"I felt the hang time," White said of the 24-foot peak. "I got to the top and was still kind of going. ... The heavy part of that is you come out of that with an amazing amount of speed."
The oldest competitor of the night at age 26, White averaged 16 feet per hit. The rest of the field averaged 11.
White's closest competitor was the youngest competitor of the night.
Japan's pint-sized powerhouse of pipe, Ayumu Hirano, made history as an X Games rookie at age 14 and winning silver.
Hirano rebounded from a scary crash in practice and boosted huge airs — 17 feet on his first hit and 18 feet on his second lap — and spun a flawless series of tricks culminating in a last-hit, double-cork 1260.
"I just wanted to have fun," Hirano said through a interpreter.
The 75-pound athlete bobbled that final hit on his first lap but stuck it clean on his second, earning silver with 92.33 points and becoming the youngest medalist in X Games history.
"He's amazing. I was trying to think of what I was doing at that age," said White, who was 13 when he competed in his first X Games, in 2000. "I was proud to ride with him. He was going pretty much as big as I was and I was impressed."
Hirano said he was "stoked" that he landed his best run.
Finland's Markus Malin bumped New Hampshire's Olympic bronze medalist, Scotty Lago, from the bronze perch with flawless second run highlighted by four double corks, including a strong 1260.
White lost his primary competition when top qualifier Iouri Podladtchikov, the pioneer of the switch double McTwist 1260 that White has used to great success, backed out of the finals because of a stomach ailment. White said he was "bummed" to see his pal Podladtchikov scratch from the competition.
"He texted me when I was at the start and said he was sorry he couldn't be here. He pushes me to ride a little better," said White, who didn't really need "Ipod" to dominate the event.
Steamboat Springs' Matt Ladley joined Podladtchikov in bailing from the finals after a spectacular crash in practice. Ladley pulled his foot out of his binding at the peak of big air above the lip, sending him caroming into the crowd.
He was taken to the Aspen Valley Hospital with a possible leg injury.