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Veteran White to take direct aim at Hirano in halfpipe

The Associated PressPYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Shaun White sat on the couch at home and watched history’s best halfpipe contest unfold.

He’s planning on making the next contest — the one where they hand out the Olympic gold medal — an even better show.

White said Thursday that he is working on the tricks that Japan’s Ayumu Hirano used to win the Winter X Games last month. Hirano became the first person to string together back-to-back 1440-degree jumps in what was widely regarded as the best show ever seen in a halfpipe.

“I’m excited to compete with him,” White said. “He’s really pushing it, and he did an amazing combination that I’m working on myself. I don’t think we’ve seen my best run.”

White’s best run, at least this season, came at Snowmass in an Olympic qualifier in January. White used one 1440, along with his patented Double McTwist 1260, to win the contest with a maximum score of 100 — one of the rare times that mark has ever been handed out.

It established him as the man to beat at the Olympics. But a short two weeks later came the X Games, where Hirano strung together his back-to-back 1440s — the first time that had ever been done in a competition — and Scotty James finished a close second on a run that included three 1260s, including one in which he rides and spins backward into the wall to execute the double cork.

“To this point, it was the most progressive halfpipe contest we’d ever seen,” said JJ Thomas, the 2002 bronze medalist who coaches White. “And I think now, as long as the weather holds up, this one will probably be even better.”

Practice on the Olympic halfpipe starts Friday, with the men’s final set for Wednesday.

White is in his fourth Olympics. Though he has two gold medals and is, far and away, the most recognizable figure in his sport, he concedes his fourth-place finish in Sochi was a blow.

“It was a nice eye-opener for me of what life’s really like,” he said. “The bubble is shattered, and what’s next? I was able to make that decision.”

Salt Lake to bid for ’30 Games

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has become the first U.S. city to announce it will pursue a bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

An exploratory committee that studied the issue and state leaders announced the decision Wednesday after spending nearly four months ensuring Utah could host the Winter Games again without losing money. The city hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City also is open to bidding for 2026 but prefers 2030.Speech

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