Shaun White

Video: Shaun White talks Sochi Olympics, hair on TODAY

Leave a comment
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The Sochi Games are more than 200 days away, but Shaun White is already consumed with the Olympics — even in his dreams.

The two-time reigning snowboard halfpipe gold medalist talked about his preparation with TODAY on Wednesday morning.

“Everything around my life right now is focused on the Olympics,” White said. “It’s a really good feeling that it’s coming up. I think I’m prepared.”

White will have to work twice as hard at his third Olympics. He’s expected to not only try to defend his halfipe crown but also go for gold in a new event, snowboard slopestyle. Let White describe it.

“It’s basically a series of jumps in one run and some rail features that you slide on,” he said. “And you make your way down and you basically do as many tricks as you can on those jumps. It’s like, you know, the new thing.”

White finished fifth in slopestyle at this year’s Winter X Games. The winner was Canadian Mark McMorris, 19, profiled in a January Rolling Stone article titled, “Is Mark McMorris the next Shaun White?” White was 19 when he won his first Olympic gold in 2006.

TODAY asked White if was one of the favorites for slopestyle gold in Sochi.

“I’m all right at it, yeah,” he said, humbly.

White was on the New York set with his new, clean-cut hairstyle. White said his previous flying tomato locks were 12 to 13 inches long. He had them cut in December for Locks of Love charity, which provides wigs for children with hair loss due to medical conditions.

“It was a tough call, but it was a good cause,” he said. “A lot of weight (gone). I can go higher now in the halfpipe.”

White also talked about how he comes up with new gravity-defying tricks.

“It’s basically tricks that are based off of other tricks,” he said. “I recently was dreaming about snowboarding. I thought of this new rotation to put on an existing trick that I already have. It’s random, mostly by mistake I’d say. You’re setting out to do something and by accident you create a new trick.”

So White’s even got the Games on his mind while he sleeps. Is he feeling the pressure?

“A little bit, yeah, but I like that,” he said. “It’s something to strive for, to live up to.”

Russian athletes to learn English before Sochi Olympics

Qatar’s Barshim sets season’s best high jump record in Birmingham

Leave a comment

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who astonished the track and field world with his non-traditional hurdling technique on his way to becoming the reigning world champion in high jump this August, one-upped himself in Birmingham when he soared over the bar set to 2.40 meters. That’s just a smidge over 7 feet, 10 inches!

The men’s outdoor high jump world record is currently 2.45m, set by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1993.

At the 2017 Worlds, the 6-foot-2 Barshim cleared the bar at about 6 feet, 4 inches with his now famous feet-first maneuver.

At Birmingham’s Diamond League event his technique may have been conventional, but his final leap was no less breathtaking.

After trading jumps with Syria’s Majed Aldin Ghazal up to 2.35m, Ghazal decided to bow out, but the Qatari continued on. With the meet already won, Barshim raised the bar to 2.40m.

“I knew I had that jump in me but I needed that pressure on my shoulders,” Barshim said. “I love it here. I had the [meet] record here from 2014 and I also won in Birmingham last year so it is a lucky place for me.”

The 2.40m final jump for Barshim registered as a meet and season record. After climbing down off the landing pad, Barshim’s fellow jumping competitors mobbed him in celebration.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Great Britain’s Mo Farah races and wins final track race in home country

Great Britain’s Mo Farah races and wins final track race in home country

Leave a comment

Great Britain’s 4-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah raced his final race on a U.K. track surface in Birmingham, winning the 3000m, as he crossed the line in 7 minutes 38.64 seconds in the final Diamond League event of the day.

Spain’s Adel Mechaal nipped at Farah’s heels heading into the final 200m, but the Brit’s kick, and the ovation from the home crowd, propelled Farah to victory.

“[The fans] have been amazing. This is what it is all about. This is what we dream of,” Farah said after the race.

At 34, Farah’s plans are to leave the 400m loop behind to pursue road racing in 2018.

“I now have to see what I will do on the road. I don’t think I’ll have the same pressure so I’ll go and enjoy it,” Farah said. “Running was a hobby when I was younger but it has become a job and I love it. It can be hard when you get the pressure but the roads will be something completely different.”

Immediately preceding Farah’s win in Birmingham, Allyson Felix of the U.S. finished second in the women’s 400m final behind Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain.

“It has been a long few weeks so I was feeling tired out there so I just wanted to come out here and try to get it done but I came up just short,” Felix said. “Everyone is tired from London but I came and gave it my best effort.

“I am not sure about any future races this season, I am going to see how I recover from this.”

Earlier this month, Felix finished behind Naser when she took bronze in the 400m at the 2017 IAAF World Championships, where Phyllis Francis of the U.S. won gold, running a personal best 49.92 seconds. Francis finished fourth in Birmingham behind another U.S. middle distance athlete, Courtney Okolo who got the bronze.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet