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02/20/2010

The Flying Tomato

Richard Lautens/Staff Photographer

I lucked into one of those perfect days at the Olympics.  A few days ago I was at Cypress Mountain shooting the men's snowboard half-pipe. 
It was warm and one of those azure skies normally reserved for deepest summer.  Just before the event I had to run out for some sunblock as I was expecting cloud and rain my whole time here.
I decided to shoot pictures from somewhere in the middle of the run.  I strapped my crampons on, and trudged up the hill.  I ended up spending 9 hours on the hillside because if I left (to eat or hit the washroom or just for a break), I would not have been allowed back up.
Of course when up the hill like that careful planning is a must-bring some snacks, extra clothes for when the sun goes down, computer, cell phone for transmitting pictures and most importantly, don't drink too much before heading up (no bathroom up there)
What I was treated to however was an incredible view of the mountains, blazing sunshine and an amazing show put on by the Flying Tomato, American Shaun White.
He is a double gold medal winner in the half-pipe and far above anyone else on the circuit.  Of course he may be best known for his long red hair.
I took the bus up with White and could hear the music from his headphones all the way down the bus.  He was also chatting with his buddies and spoke a language this 45 year old father of two could barely recognize ('knarley pow' being used frequently)
He put on quite a show and ended up with gold.

Wide_sun Shaun White flies high

Upside down He looked like an astronaut when it got dark for the final

Jubo_600
Celebrating with his bronze medal winning team mate

Almost_hit
We are quite close to the action and at one point (his second run of the day), he missed a trick and ended up on the lip, stopped about a foot from me.  I felt like I should pat his shoulder or have a chat or something.  I said the one thing quietly that I thought would help us bond somehow:  "bummer".

Janelle As he cruised off I was sure I caught a faint "no doubt" from him.  I actually felt cool for a moment.

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star



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