shaun white

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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Shaun White appears on ‘Saturday Night Live’ cold open

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Shaun White‘s retirement tour made a stop at “Saturday Night Live” for a cameo in a ManningCast cold open.

White, who ended his snowboarding career with a fourth-place finish at the Olympics last February, appeared on SNL as a “special master from the classified documents investigation” into Donald Trump.

White also attended the Super Bowl and presented at the Academy Awards after competing for the last time in February.

White is the latest Olympian to appear on the series, following the likes of hockey player Hilary Knight, Dream Team members Charles Barkley (who hosted four times) and Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps.

Jonny Moseley, the 1998 Olympic moguls champion, is the lone Winter Olympic gold medalist to host the show.

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Shaun White makes Olympic snowboarding team as oldest U.S. halfpipe rider ever

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Shaun White was named to his fifth and likely final Olympic team, as expected, and will become the oldest U.S. halfpipe rider in Winter Games history.

The full snowboard roster was announced Friday.

White, a three-time gold medalist, leads a men’s halfpipe team of underdogs for medals in China. White made one podium in five contests since returning from a three-year break last year. Riders from Japan and Australia are the favorites.

White, 35, will break the retired Kelly Clark‘s record as the oldest U.S. Olympic halfpipe rider. He is also older than any previous male halfpipe rider from any nation in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

The rest of the men’s halfpipe team: 2014 Olympian Taylor Gold, 2018 Olympian Chase Josey and first-timer Lucas Foster.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

Defending Olympic champion Chloe Kim and fellow medal threat Maddie Mastro previously qualified in women’s halfpipe. Coaches announced two more riders Friday — first-time Olympians Zoe Kalapos and Tessa Maud.

The snowboard cross team includes the oldest athlete on the entire U.S. Olympic team — 40-year-old Nick Baumgartner — and now-five-time Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis. Both previously qualified, as did Hagen Kearney and Faye Gulini. The new additions announced Friday: 2019 World champion Mick Dierdorff, 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold, Stacy Gaskill and Meghan Tierney.

The U.S. earned two spots in parallel giant slalom, both men, and filled them with Cody Winters and Robby Burns.

In slopestyle, defending gold medalists Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard previously qualified. As did returning Olympians Hailey Langland and Chris Corning and first-time Olympian Dusty Henricksen.

The final riders were Julia Marino, Courtney Rummel and Sean FitzSimons, who won a competition in Switzerland last week and beat out Brock Crouch for the last spot. That’s notable given Crouch survived life-altering injuries after being buried for several minutes in an avalanche four years ago.

In freestyle skiing, the last Olympic roster spots were also announced Friday:

Aerials: Eric Loughran, Ashley Caldwell, Kaila Kuhn
Halfpipe: Birk Irving, Devin Logan, Carly Margulies
Moguls: Kai Owens, Cole McDonald, Nick Page, Dylan Walczyk, Bradley Wilson
Ski Cross: Tyler Wallasch
Slopestyle/Big Air: Nick Goepper, Caroline Claire, Marin Hamill, Darian Stevens

Many Olympic medal contenders previously qualified, including two-time Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise.

A notable is Margulies, who last competed in an International Ski Federation event in December 2019 and was cleared to return to skiing last week, one month after surgery for a torn medial meniscus in her left knee. Margulies has had at least six knee surgeries, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

“I was told by doctors that the tear was so significant that surgery was a non negotiable and i was looking at a 6 to 9 month recovery,” was posted on her social media last month. “i was basically told my olympic dreams were crushed and in that moment i decided i could never go through something like this again therefore my competitive career was over.

“Fast forward to a few days later, i received good news that there was a chance this meniscus would not be repairable resulting in a snip of the damaged area and only a 4 to 6 week recovery!”

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