By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Scotty Lago’s voice took on a bit of a disappointed tone yesterday morning as he packed his bags for the next stop on his international snowboarding tour.
Lago left Aspen, Colo., and the Winter X Games without a medal after placing fourth in his marquee event, the Superpipe. The Seabrook native finished behind six-time Olympic gold-medalist Shaun White, who blew away the competition with scores of 98.00 and 95.00 in the final event of the weekend Sunday night. White recorded a 24-foot backside hit, which culminated in a frontside double-cork 1260 in his second run.
Lago could live with finishing second behind Lago. However, he was disappointed to finish behind second-place finisher Ayumu Hirano, a 14-year-old from Japan, and Markus Malin, a 25-year-old from Finland.
“There’s no denying Shaun White,” Lago said. “I wasn’t going to touch 98. I wasn’t going to do a run better than Shaun. He went huge, and everything was perfect. There’s no doubt in my mind, I could have posted the second-best score.”
Lago actually held the lead for a brief time early in the competition after posting a score of 90.00 on his first run. White posted a higher score on his first run (95.0) later in the round. Hiyano (92.33) and Malin (91.33) knocked Lago off the podium in the second run.
The 25-year-old Lago had one more opportunity to earn his way back onto the podium in the third round, but fell on his entry into the halfpipe, resulting in a score of 1.00.
“I was happy with the first run, but that was more of a safety run,” Lago said. “That was a run where I knew I could land everything. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stomp my landings on the other two runs. It’s a missed opportunity. I know I could have gotten second with the run I planned. I didn’t end up putting it down.”
Lago, who won a bronze medal in the halfpipe at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, placed second among Americans, behind only White. In all likelihood, four Americans will qualify for next year’s Olympics in Socchi, Russia, so Lago is on track to return for his second Olympic Games.
However, qualifying events won’t take place until next winter, and Lago has another two months of competitions this season to help him prepare for the qualifying events. He planned to fly to Park City, Utah, yesterday, with later trips to Switzerland and Russia planned for February and March.
“It’s always competitive,” Lago said. “How the Americans do this winter will determine if we get four spots at the Olympics next year. So hopefully, by the end of the World Cup push, we’ll have that set in stone.”