KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Hours before he went for the win, Shaun White already had delivered a gold-medal moment.
Shortly after qualifying for the Olympic halfpipe final Tuesday, White vaulted the barriers separating him from the fans and gave two young cancer patients high-fives and hugs.
"I thought, 'He's here? What?'" said Ben Hughes, a 10-year-old from St. Louis who was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago.
Also sharing the love was 19-year-old Kaitlyn Lyle, who, like Hughes, was in Russia courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Lyle said she had "liked" White on his Facebook page.
"I had no idea he'd do this," she said.
She was diagnosed a bit before the Vancouver Olympics and her wish was to come to Russia, where she was torn between asking for tickets for figure skating or snowboarding.
"But when I saw Shaun win gold (in Vancouver), I chose snowboarding," she said.