Shaun White’s next mountain: businessman, snowboard maker

Shaun White
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In a lot of ways, this autumn is like so many others for Shaun White. The now-retired, three-time Olympic halfpipe champion was on a glacier in Switzerland earlier this month, taking turns down the halfpipe, trying to figure out what works, what has potential and what needs a complete overhaul.

He is getting ready for winter, though this time, there are no big contests coming up. He is sizing up his snowboards, though this time, he’s seeing what other people might like, not necessarily what he needs to win.

The 36-year-old’s first full season in retirement also marks the beginning of his first year as a full-fledged business owner. The brand he introduced with a soft open in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics earlier this year will be fully operational starting Monday. The name is Whitespace. It’s debuting with a limited line of snowboards and outerwear, and White, in an attempt to be as calculating in the marketplace as he was on the mountain, isn’t in any hurry to place his business in competition with some of the behemoths in those industries.

“I have this visual in my head, looking at a chairlift and seeing my name” on the bottom of a snowboard, White said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from Saas-Fee, Switzerland. “And it’s knowing that my product is being enjoyed by somebody.”

An iconoclast who went against snowboarding’s traditions by making it cool to ride for money and medals, White says he wants his brand to stand out on the mountain the same way he did. One way to do that, he says, is developing a personal touch to what he sells.

“The other day, multiple pallets of boards showed up at my mom’s house,” White said. “We’re doing it. But we’re not taking a huge swing. To start, we’re doing, like, three jackets, two pairs of pants, three snowboards. When you think about the lineup, we’re doing the essentials. I’m thinking, ‘If I were going on a trip, what would I pack?’”

The eight months since White’s emotionally charged exit from the halfpipe in the mountains outside Beijing have been a whirlwind. He took the advice of his girlfriend, actress Nina Dobrev, and made a bucket list of things he’d always wanted to do but hadn’t. It started with a trip to the Super Bowl and, as his Instagram feed has documented, included a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, trips to Cannes and Monaco, and a chance to meet Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, a game-changing superstar in his sport who is about the same age as White.

Yet, when asked what the most memorable moment of his still-nascent retirement has been, White talked about a trip to Avignon, France, to visit with Dobrev’s family.

“We hung out with her mom. Rode bikes around the city,” White said. “Food was great. We’re hanging by the river. Going to the swap meet. Going to the fruit market. Just everyday stuff. It was taking time to go see someone else’s family and just spend some time. It’s using that currency, which is time, and spend it on some things I’d been putting aside for so long.”

Regrets about calling it quits? White hasn’t felt many to this point. Every now and then, he thinks about his final run at the Olympics, and his final day on the mountain. He was trying to execute the same run that won him his third gold medal four years earlier in South Korea. But he fell and finished fourth. In the end, even if he’d landed that run, it probably wouldn’t have earned gold, given the leaps his sport had made between 2018 and 2022.

At the end of that memorable contest, White soaked things in, hanging out for about an hour after the last run to bid a heartfelt and tear-stained adieu to his life as a competitive snowboarder.

“It’s too premature to say everything’s great,” he said. “I do have moments where it’s like ‘Ohhhh.’ How could you not, after so many years of doing one thing and formulating a plan to try to be the best?”

In many ways, though, he views new business, and his line of snowboards and clothes, as simply another way of competing.

“It’s, how do I push not only myself but the brand to rise to that occasion? Not only visually, but also performing. What’s going to work?” White said. “There are so many different ways to still get that enjoyment of the strategy and creativeness and coming up with the next thing to do.”

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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