White falls to the I-Pod in Olympic stunner

By By The Associated Press

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Shaun White lost to a kid they call the "I-Pod," and now, he may never hear the end of it.

An Olympic shocker this was. How big? White, the best snowboarder of his era, didn't even win a medal. He finished fourth.

The 27-year-old American, who opted out of

the Olympic slopestyle debut and put all his chips in the halfpipe,

where he hoped

to win a third straight gold medal, got knocked off by Iouri

Podladtchikov, the Russian-born inventor of the trick that White

could not master.

The Japanese pair of Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won silver and bronze, and the Americans were shockingly shut out on the

halfpipe for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.

I-Pod's trick is called the "Yolo" — You Only Live Once — and when Podladtchikov, who now lives in and competes for Switzerland,

landed it successfully at an event in Europe last season, White watched on his computer and knew what he had to do next.

He landed it twice in qualifying events

leading up to the Olympics and was listed as the heavy favorite in

sports books to

walk away with the gold and become only the seventh person to win

three straight in an individual event at the Winter Games.

But this has been a stressful few months for the world's most famous snowboarder, and when he pulled out of the inaugural

slopestyle contest, saying he didn't want to risk injury for his historic quest on the halfpipe, the stakes were set.

It unraveled early.

White's first attempt at the Yolo ended with

a fall straight on his backside. For some reason, he tried to pull off

another

of his double-cork tricks but missed that, too — his board and

backside getting caught on the lip of the pipe in an awkward

and certainly painful fall.

I-Pod had scored an 86.5 in his first run — clearly in medal contention — and then came the run that won it. The trick includes

a total of 1440 degrees of spin — two head-over-heels flips and two 360-degree turns.

Four years ago, it was unthinkable. But not anymore.

I-Pod landed it and even though he only threw five tricks, when most riders were trying six in a supersized, super-slushy

halfpipe, the judges liked what they saw.

It put huge pressure on White, whose last two final runs at the Olympics have been nothing more than victory rides.

White didn't fall, but rather skittered down

the pipe on his landing. The landing on his last double cork was less

than perfect,

too — his knees buckled and nearly touched the snow. White raised

one finger in the air and raised his hands in victory. Yes,

sometimes judges reward athletes for what they've done, not what

they just did.

Not this time. When his fourth-place score, a 90.25 came up, e broke into a big smile. He gave Podladtchikov a big hug and

fatherly mussed his hair. That kid earned it. And the champion had nothing to complain about.