KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – American snowboard star Shaun White made his way through the media area at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park after posting the best score in Tuesday's qualifying round, and when he got to the American flag, he stopped.
Instead of conducting another round of interviews, White hopped over a waist-high fence to greet two American fans who had flown to Russia specifically hoping to meet him.
Ten-year-old Ben Hughes of St. Louis and Katie Lyle, a 19-year-old from Pensacola, are attending the Sochi Games on a Make a Wish trip. Both love White and it was their dream to merely watch him compete. Neither thought their trip would include a meeting.
"Oh my God, oh my God, I love him," Lyle said. "He's even cuter in person."
Lyle watched White win gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010 while undergoing chemotherapy at a Florida children's hospital. She's been cancer-free for three and a half years.
Hughes was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and finished his treatments in 2012. He has since taken up snowboarding and likes to ride on some small hills in Missouri.
"This can't be happening," Hughes said. "This is super awesome."