Shaun White details crash that led to 62 stitches

Shaun White
TODAY
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Shaun White crashed on his face training in New Zealand two weeks ago, requiring 62 stitches across his forehead, lips and tongue.

“I’ve had worse,” White laughed by phone Wednesday. “I would say it’s the most, like, visually alarming crash [in my career], you know what I mean?

“My worst crash is actually MTV’s 100 most brutal moments [video here via Diamond Dallas Page]. I was 11, and I crashed into another skateboarder, Bob Burnquist. I broke my hand. I spiral fractured my foot. I had a hairline fracture in my skull, and I woke up a day later. That was, by far, the worst crash.”

This most recent crash will cause White to miss about a month of snowboarding. The double Olympic halfpipe champion said he started working out again Wednesday and is planning to ride again late this month.

He expects to compete in the first of a series of Olympic team selection events the second weekend of December.

White remembers the crash in detail. He was performing a double flip 1440. He clipped the top of the halfpipe upon re-entry, bounced toward the bottom of the pipe, caught the toe edge of his board and faceplanted.

“And the wall itself is about 22 feet, so I flew all the way down,” he said. “I’ve fallen that way a million times. It’s kind of a perfect situation where I hit right on my lip and split my lip open. … I was bleeding a lot. I got up and rode down to the lift off area. I wasn’t knocked out. I ended up riding myself down to the paramedics office, the ski patrol. They’re like, look, the hospital is really far away, so I ended up taking a helicopter to the hospital and getting patched up.

“We have a really tough wax tech,” White went on, sharing more laughs. “He loved hockey, I think, more than anything. He was like, yeah, this happens. Split his face open, it’s good for the boy.”

White also suffered a pulmonary lung contusion. The blood buildup in his lungs delayed his flight home until his oxygen levels improved.

White was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and had two major surgeries before his first birthday. It left him with a six-inch scar in the center of his rib cage.

The 31-year-old has also had a few concussions and a left ankle injury that bothered him from 2009 until he underwent surgery last fall.

This 62-stitcher is actually his second significant crash of this preseason.

White badly bruised his hip and his liver in a training fall in New Zealand about two months ago, which caused him to urinate blood. Doctors advised him then to “take a few weeks off.”

White is arguably the favorite for gold in PyeongChang in February despite finishing a disappointing fourth in Sochi, where he was bidding to three-peat as Olympic halfpipe champion.

White gradually improved last season after taking time off, changing coaches and dropping slopestyle (and his band work).

He was 11th at January’s Winter X Games — his worst finish there since 2000 — but then finished first, second and first in his last three events.

He peaked at the finale, the U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. White landed a cab double cork 1440 and a double McTwist 1260 in one run for the first time, according to The Associated Press.

White is older than any previous U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboarder but has not ruled out continuing to Beijing 2022.

He’s still staying busy off the snow. White’s Air + Style just announced it will hold a big air event in Australia, about one mile from the Sydney Opera House, in August.

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MORE: Meet the new face of U.S. slopestyle

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes
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In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world.

Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for a 2024 Olympic run, won the World Tour Finals for the biggest title for a U.S. pair since April Ross and Alix Klineman took gold in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old Californians swept reigning world champions Duda and Ana Patricia of Brazil 21-18, 21-16 in Sunday’s final in Doha.

Cheng and Hughes have entered four tournaments since reuniting last fall and won all of them — once on the domestic AVP tour and now three international events.

They are rolling into the start of the 2024 Olympic qualifying window next week. It’s likely that the top two U.S. women’s pairs across international events over the course of the next 18 months qualify for the Paris Games.

Cheng and Hughes were previously NCAA champion teammates at USC, then the most promising, young U.S. pro team before splitting in 2018. Cheng made the Tokyo Olympics with Sarah Sponcil (lost in the round of 16), while Hughes’ Tokyo bid flamed out when partner Summer Ross suffered a back injury in 2019.

“It was a lot of the unknown and being young and kind of immature and listening to maybe outside forces and not really knowing how to deal with things as well,” Hughes said in October of their past breakup. “We’ve pretty much moved past that in our relationship. Moving forward with one another, we’re completely different players, and we’re a lot more mature. It feels like the right time. The past is past. We’re just moving forward.”

Cheng and Hughes have taken over from April Ross and Klineman as the top U.S. team. After winning Olympic gold, Klineman underwent shoulder surgery in January 2022 and last week announced she is pregnant and may return from childbirth for a “last-second” 2024 Olympic qualifying bid.

April Ross, a 40-year-old with an Olympic medal of every color, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where she was entered with Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.

The U.S. earned at least one beach volleyball medal at every Olympics that the sport has been on the program (since 1996), and a men’s or women’s gold at all but one Olympics. Eighteen months out from the Paris Games, Cheng and Hughes are the best hope to keep the podium streak going.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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