Winter Olympics: 'Cowboy' Shaun White ready to sign off with final flourish in Beijing

By Sports Desk February 05, 2022 849

Shaun White has confirmed the Winter Olympics halfpipe will be his last snowboarding event before retiring from the sport.

The American has a place in Games history under lock and key already, as the first and so far only snowboarder to win three gold medals.

"I really want to finish my career strongly on my own terms and put down some solid runs. If I could do that, I'll be very happy," White said on Saturday.

"I don't know how many kids really aspire to be a cowboy and get to be a cowboy. At a young age, snowboarding is what I wanted more than anything and to be walking in these shoes today is just incredible. It feels so amazing, I'm so proud."

White said he came close to missing a Games bus on Friday night because he was too occupied with trading USA team pins – an Olympics ritual that sees stars and participants swapping the colourful pin badges, amassing collections to take away as mementos.

"I'm having as much fun as I can," White said.

It is worth remembering what White has brought to the Winter Olympics and snow sport as a whole.

At the X Games – the Mardi Gras of extreme sports – White has totted up 23 medals, of which 15 have been gold. Thirteen of those gold medals have come in snowboarding, but two came in skateboarding, highlighting his prowess there.

Eight of his X Games golds came in the halfpipe event, with the other five achieved in slopestyle, the snowboarding variant that features obstacles.

He was the first snowboarder to score a perfect 100 in the halfpipe in the Winter X Games, achieving that 10 years ago in Aspen, Colorado.

White triumphed first at the Games as a 19-year-old in Turin in 2006, defending his title in 2010 in Vancouver, and recovering from the jolt of missing out on the Sochi podium four years later by landing gold again at Pyeongchang.

His score of 97.75 in his second run at Pyeongchang stands as an Olympic record.

His final bid for glory is coming up, with men's halfpipe qualifying taking place on Wednesday, before Zhangjiakou's Genting Snow Park stages the final runs on Friday.

"It will be my last competition, which is pretty special," said White, in a news conference on Saturday.

It was already known this would be his final Olympics.

Now 35, White has been snowboarding since the age of six. The red-haired Californian goes by the nickname of 'The Flying Tomato', and he says the experience of knowing this is his farewell Olympics is "pretty heavy, but I'm enjoying it".

"It's been a beautiful run. Let's see this through and see what's next," he said. "I definitely don't think I'll be leaving the sport anytime soon. All these people within an industry that ride backcountry and pipes. I'm just excited for the next chapter."

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Last modified on Saturday, 05 February 2022 11:05
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