Sochi 2014: Shaun White loses halfpipe title to Podladtchikov

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi

United States snowboarder Shaun White failed to secure a historic third consecutive Winter Olympic halfpipe gold, finishing fourth in Sochi.

Russia-born Iouri Podladtchikov, who represents Switzerland, claimed victory with 94.75 points.

Japanese duo Ayumu Hirano, 15, and Taku Hiraoka, 18, took silver and bronze.

White, 27, who withdrew from the slopestyle event last week, crashed in the opening round of the final before scoring 90.25 in the second.

The 13-time Winter X Games champion joined fellow snowboarders in complaining about the condition of the Sochi halfpipe course ahead of the final - claiming it was "far from perfect".

However, after an impressive qualifying display on Tuesday morning - in which he scored a stunning 95.75 - he told BBC Radio 5 Live that the halfpipe was riding "much smoother".

And following the loss of his title, he vowed to return in 2018 to reclaim his Olympic crown.

"It's tough - I really wanted to win tonight but it wasn't my night and I just couldn't land what I needed," said White on BBC 5 Live.

"I'm going to go and see my family and try to do whatever people do in this situation.

"There was a bit of expectation and pressure but I do that to myself anyway. I just need to go away and think about what happened.

"The last thing I want to think and speak about at the moment is the next Olympics as this has just happened, but I would love to go to another.

"It was an honour to be here and part of it and I would love to be there [in 2018] - but as for now, that is a long way off."

White had tipped Switzerland's Podladtchikov as a major contender for the Sochi Olympic title and was proved right.

The world champion snowboarder, who represented Russia at the 2006 Games before switching to Switzerland for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, held off the challenge of Japan's rising stars Hirano - who became the youngest Olympic medallist on snow - and Hiraoka.

"I feel like I'm fainting, I haven't eaten much, I really can't believe it," said Podladtchikov, who is known on the snowboarding tour as 'I-Pod'.

"Everything came together exactly the way I planned it five minutes before and it's weird because it never usually works out. In this one it really felt like there was no fighting (to pull off tricks) at all, it felt like it was all meant to be.

"And I was in the position where I was throwing down my hardest tricks with ease. There are no words for that."

Hirano and Hiraoka became Japan's first snowboard Olympic medallists and are set to be contenders for major honours for many years to come.

Britain's Dom Harington, 29, and Ben Kilner, 25, failed to qualify. Kilner finished 16th in his heat after a score of 43.50 and Harington, who fell on both of his runs, came 20th in his section with a score of 37.25.

Ireland's Seamus O'Connor scored 71.50 in his heat to move into the semi-finals, although he then registered efforts of 54.00 and 43.00 and missed out on the final.