**Spoiler Alert: This story contains winners and losers**
(CNN) — He is not used to failing and certainly not on a scale like this, but Shaun White’s bid for a third successive snowboarding halfpipe title came crashing down as the legendary American failed to even make the podium.
The 27-year-old had been the main focus of all the buildup but his bid to become the first American to win three consecutive Winter Olympic titles was drowned out by a man known as “iPod.”
So that’s “iPod” beating the “Flying Tomato”, in case you’re not across your snowboarding nicknames.
Having tactically avoided the slopestyle course, which White described as “a little intimidating”, in a bid to keep his powder fresh for the halfpipe, the American was beaten not just by long-time rival Iouri Podladtchikov (aka “iPod”) but two Japanese teenagers as well.
The Swiss wore a look of stunned disbelief as the scoreboard showed that he had won the competition, so ending years of failure against 2006 and 2010 Olympic champion White.
Having changed nationality after competing for Russia in the 2006 Games, “iPod” celebrated his first Olympic medal after pulling out a stunning back double in a second run that earned him an insurmountable 94.75 points.
“It’s not explainable how hard it was today. It just worked out. It’s hot, cool and it’s mine,” the snowboarder, who was born near Moscow, told reporters.
“My mindset was definitely to go for it. The back double has been going really well and this wall is quite vertical, which is what I need for that trick. I was like, ‘When, if not now?’ I was like, ‘Why not?’ Believe me, I was so surprised it worked out so easily. I was like, ‘Holy Mother…’ I feel more alive than ever.
“I’ve rarely ever seen Shaun make two mistakes and he made a couple today. I would have wished he had landed his run. I love him and I love to watch him. He has been my inspiration always. We were the only ones doing back doubles – front side spins are so much easier. Shaun was the first to congratulate me; we’re friends now.”
White is the world’s most popular snowboarder, as shown by his 1.3 million followers on Twitter, but he fell twice in his first run and was far from his best in his second — managing 90.25 to finish fourth.
“I am disappointed. I hate the fact that I nailed (my run) in practice, but it happens. It’s hard to be consistent,” he said before turning his attention to the future.
“I will go and see my family and reflect. I’m planning to go out and play some music. I have got a tour to look forward to (with his band, Bad Things).”
The silver and bronze were won by Ayumu Hirano, 15, and Taku Hiraoka, 18, as fans packed into the floodlit Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
JUMPING INTO HISTORY
In many ways though, the day belonged to all those who had campaigned to see women’s ski jumping accepted as an Olympic sport.
For a convoluted battle that had involved a court case against the International Olympic Committee (IOC), cries of gender discrimination and intense frustration finally ended when American Sarah Hendrickson launched herself into the Sochi sky.
“I am bib number one today. That means I will be the first girl EVER to ski jump in an Olympic event. All smiles,” the world champion had tweeted earlier in the day.
Her maiden run came 90 years after men first competed in the Winter Olympics and nine after former International Ski Federation president, Gian Franco Kasper, told NPR radio in the United States that ski jumping seemed inappropriate “for ladies from a medical point of view”.
Having repeatedly seen all efforts to make women’s ski jumping an Olympic sport go up in a cloud of powder, a group of 15 female ski jumpers took dramatic action in 2009 as they filed a lawsuit against Vancouver’s 2010 Organizing Committee.
They argued that the failure to include their event in the Games — while allowing the men’s — violated equality rights and although the judge agreed, he said the ultimate decision for the sport’s inclusion rested with the IOC itself.
In April 2011, the IOC — whose former president Jacques Rogge had previously said that too few women were competing in the sport to make it an Olympic event — relented and ladies’ normal hill competition was finally added to the Games.
This was still not the same as the men — who will be contesting the normal hill, large hill and team competition in Sochi — but a major breakthrough nonetheless.
So all Tuesday’s competitors will feel as though they participated in something special but it was Germany’s Carina Vogt who will enter the history books as the sport’s first Olympic gold medalist.
Just like Podladtchikov, the overwhelming emotion on Vogt’s face was one of astonishment — sinking to her knees before being lifted up by colleagues with tears in her eyes.
“I can’t find the right words. I’m just speechless because training yesterday was not so good,” the 22-year-old, whose first jump was over 100 meters, told reporters. “I’ve not won a world cup till now. It’s unbelievable.”
Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, an openly gay athlete who also plays football in her home nation for FC Wacker, finished second, with Coline Mattel of France third.
The pre-event favourite had been Japanese teenager Sara Takanashi, on whose slender frame rested enormous hopes, but the 17-year-old — who has dominated this season’s events — finished fourth.
“I came here wanting to do my best. I’m incredibly disappointed,” said the world No. 1, who stands 4 feet 11 inches. “It’s a good experience being at the Olympic Games and I’m glad to be part of it.”
BEST OF THE REST
Elsewhere, Ola Vigen Hattestad won the men’s cross country sprint where three competitors fell in the final, eventually leading home Swedish duo Teodor Peterson and Emil Joensson.
“I didn’t see them fall,” said Hattestad. “I thought it was a little bit weird that no one attacked me on the uphill because I was skiing quite slowly.”
Norway became the first country to win the men’s and women’s cross country sprint after Maiken Caspersen Falla had triumphed earlier, whooping with delight after beating compatriot Ingvild Flugstad Oesterberg and Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan.
Norwegians have now won 38 Olympic cross country skiing events, the highest tally of golds won by any country in any sport at the Winter Games.
The first gold of the day went to 19-year-old Canadian Dara Howell in the women’s slopestyle skiing gold.
She led home American Devin Logan and fellow Canadian Kim Lamarre, while Yuki Tsubota had to be carried off on a stretcher after a heavy fall — with a Canadian team spokesperson later saying she had avoided serious injury.
South Korea has been dominant in speed skating in recent Olympics but had come away empty handed in the Adler Arena Skating Center until Lee Sang Hwa won gold in the women’s 500m speed skating.
Her total time of 74.70 was good enough to win her nation its first gold of the games, and lead her home ahead of Russia’s Olga Fatkulina and Margot Boer of the Netherlands.
One of the performances of the day came from Darya Domracheva in the women’s biathlon 10 km pursuit as she became the first Winter Olympic gold medalist from Belarus, finishing a massive 37 seconds ahead of Norway’s Tora Berger and Slovenian Teja Gregorin.
While Domracheva was impressive, so was Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger in the women’s luge.
She registered the biggest winning margin in any luge event at the Winter Olympics since 1964 as Germany won this event for the fifth tournament in a row.
“I can’t find any words right now. All I know is that nobody can take it from me,” said a woman who beat her rivals by over a second, an enormous time in luge.
“Near the end I knew it was enough. I wanted to scream with joy even before the race was over.”
Compatriot Tatjana Huefner’s silver means Germany has now won 12 of the 15 available medals in this event from 1998 until 2014, including all five golds.
Erin Hamlin finished third as the United States won its first medal in women’s luge.