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The biggest challenge Shaun White has faced came in the first year of his life, when he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. He had two operations before the age of one, but recovered in spectacular style
Before he was ten, White was hailed as a skateboarding and snowboarding superstar in the making, and he has lived up to all the hype. He is the only person to win titles in both the Summer and Winter X-Games and is known by just about everyone as The Flying Tomato, in deference to his curly red hair.
His victory in the 2006 half-pipe event seemed a foregone conclusion in many people's eyes. White had already won six gold medals at the X-Games and he was clearly the most talented halfpiper in the field. Nerves appeared to get to him, though, and White's qualifying performance was surprisingly nervy. He was seventh after his first run and not yet guaranteed a final place. His second run, though, was impressive – the highest score of the round, and plenty enough to earn him his spot in the final.
After that, he flourished magnificently, recording a score of 46.8 out of the maximum 50. It was the highest score ever recored in the Olympics, beating Ross Powers' record of 46.1 from four years before. Fellow American Danny Kass took silver with a score of 44.
White's career went from strength to strength after the Games. He continued to be the world's best known snowboarder, as well as also the best known skateboarder. In order to perfect his performance on snow, he built his own half-pipe near his home Colorado and went on to repeat his gold medal display in Vancouver in 2010.