Shaun White’s old coach heads China snowboarding toward Beijing Olympics

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Bud Keene, who coached Shaun White at three Olympics, now leads Chinese snowboarders en route to the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

“I signed a contract with China to win a medal in 2022. So, that’s the goal,” Keene said Thursday before a World Cup big air event inside the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, according to Xinhua News Agency.

While Keene helped White to two of his three Olympic halfpipe golds, the Vermont native is in charge of big air and slopestyle teams for China.

The Chinese are best known for their halfpipe riders, including Liu Jiayu, who took silver behind American Chloe Kim in PyeongChang for China’s first Olympic snowboarding medal. Five other Chinese finished in the top 10 in men’s and women’s halfpipe since 2010, but China has yet to enter a rider in an Olympic slopestyle or big air contest.

“We have a mountain to climb,” Keene said, according to Xinhua. “There’s no question about that. But we’re gonna climb it one step once a time.”

Keene and White both said they parted amicably after White’s disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Keene said in 2016 that they accomplished all they could together, and the coach wanted to invest more time in grass-roots snowboarding and instructing. He guided New Zealand freeskiers and snowboarders in PyeongChang, where that nation earned its second and third Winter Olympic medals (in ski halfpipe and snowboard big air).

China, which has rivaled the U.S. in Summer Olympic medals, earned between eight and 11 medals at the last six Winter Olympics, challenging some traditional European powers. More than half of its Winter Games medals came in short track speed skating, including 10 of its 13 golds.

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