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Shaun White takes backseat, again, to Kevin Pearce at European Open

January 16, 2009 |  1:32 pm

Kevin Pearce in action at the Burton European Open.

Once upon a time not too long ago, all Shaun White had to do is stick his halfpipe routine to claim a gold medal.

The Flying Tomato was heads and shoulders above the competition at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Señor Blanco was again golden, for the third time in an X Games halfpipe competition, at Aspen in 2008.

But White will need to formulate some new routines in order to reestablish his dominance -- and quickly if he intends on mining more gold at next week's X Games or next winter's Olympics.

That's because other riders, most notably best friends Kevin Pearce and Danny Davis, have reached the same talent stratosphere.

Pearce today won the Burton European Open at Laax, Switzerland, edging White on his final run, with a dizzying display that included a frontside 1080 tail-grab, connecting to a Cab 1080, followed by a front-side 900. Score: 95.50 to White's 92.33.

(Pearce also edged White at last year's BEO.)

At the inaugural Winter Dew Tour event last month at Breckenridge, it was Davis prevailing over White, who rebounded to win the Dew Tour's second competition at Mount Snow, Vt. (Pearce was third, behind Steve Fisher).

This, of course, is great for the sport. Whereas Pearce and Davis are feeding off each other, while striving to become part  of the 2010 Olympic experience, White, who despises finishing second, will be driven to soar even higher and spin and grab with more mastery.

Look for scores in the high 90s at the X Games.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Kevin Pearce in action at the Burton European Open. Courtesy of Burton