Snowboard phenom Shaun White secured his fifth X Games halfpipe gold medal Sunday night. Earning a score of 94 on his first of three runs, White was unchallenged by the field of riders in the next two rounds. With the win secured, White's third run was to be a victory lap. Instead, he laid down the biggest and best run of his career and earned the first perfect score in X Games halfpipe history.
Once little more than a fringe element of mountain culture, the Winter X Games is now the biggest—and maybe the most important—sporting events on snow.
When it started 16 years ago, the Winter X Games was a bastion of counterculture. It was barely a blip on the greater ski industry's radar. The mainstream winter sports community largely disregarded it as a playground for nonconformists who were in it for adrenaline's sake alone and contributed little to the ski industry's bottom line. The competitors were unknown kids and young adults who went to school or worked full-time jobs. They invented new tricks in their spare time for no reward but their peers' admiration.