To be a legend in a sport
you have to change it. You force the rest of the sport to become better
because you exist. He’s just an incredible athlete
and amazing competitor. I’ve done more in business
and in life and these things than I ever have
after winning the Olympics. There is that old adage,
it’s lonely at the top. It is. People think I’m from Vermont,
people think I’m from Colorado, like, I’ve never
in my entire career as a professional snowboarder,
lived in the mountains, never. I’m considered one of
the world’s best snowboarders and I’m from the beach, man,
I had asthma as a kid. I didn’t like the altitude,
the cold, any of these things but I’m, I guess,
considered one of the best. He makes everything
look easy, right? That’s the sign
of an amazing athlete, as you do the most
difficult things, you make them look easy. Probably one of the best
competitors there’s ever been in snowboarding. He’s just influenced the sport
and got so many people into it, it’s just incredible. I always had a drive
to be the best. I always wanted to skate
so well at the park that Tony Hawk would notice me. Shaun used to skate here
all the time. Shaun used to live down here
so this was his local ramp. So basically
I would see him on the ramp and it was this legendary guy
that would just show up and skate the ramp
and talk about being inspired. I mean, seeing the world’s
best at your park every day, doing his thing,
I mean, it was amazing. This little kid, basically,
he started to get his strength, he started to get his
confidence and all of a sudden he was doing tricks
that we had never dreamed of. I first became aware of Shaun when he first put out
a video on YouTube and I think
he was 11 years old. It was just incredible
watching him snowboard. He was so above his time,
like, it was mad. My brother was seven years
older than me. I would follow him
through the park and hit all the jumps that
he was hitting at the time. By the time I was his age
about seven years later, I was already off
doing these big tricks that a lot of
the pros couldn’t do or a lot of the guys at the
mountain were just learning and I was way younger
than everyone. He was the only kid around and he was beating
all the men hands down in a lot of the contests. I was at a snowboard event
here in southern California and I remember
seeing this little kid. I mean, he looked like a pixie, with his giant helmet,
coming down the halfpipe. I won the first
contest I entered when I was about
eight or nine, or something like that
and people were taking notice of me
at the mountain. I was really young,
I was really small but I was still able
to clear the big jumps. They called him
the Flying Tomato and it was all about his red
hair and his freckles. I didn’t really get along with
the other kids at that time because, you know,
it was competitive. Shaun felt detached
from his peers because he was so
far ahead of them and I honestly went through
the same exact thing, especially in my teenage years
and my 20s. I was winning most
of the competitions. By the time I went pro
it was like, OK, I’m pro and,
you know, no-one’s taking me seriously
because I’m tiny. It was very bizarre and surreal to be a part of
the Olympic team and I wasn’t really ready
or expecting that. You know, I found myself
in the room with all the other
US team riders, cheering for curling, cheering
for the downhill skiers. All these people that we don’t
totally take notice of but you’re a part
of this team now, you’re all wearing
the same outfits, you’re doing the thing together and so it was just
like a community vibe that I got when I was there that I wasn’t expecting
to experience. You’re coming into Torino
with a lot of expectations for the US team. This is our sport,
we started this. (SHAUN WHITE) (TORINO 2006 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 1) Just incredible,
he was so consistent and he was just
getting higher and higher and I wish I could
go that high. I tell you now, going that
high out of a halfpipe must be so scary. He gets more amplitude
out of the halfpipe than just about anyone and he holds that
throughout his run. And the reason getting height
out of the pipe is so difficult is because it not only takes
incredible technique to hold your edge
in an icy halfpipe, but the higher you get
out of the pipe, the more risk you’re taking.
So it takes a lot of guts. He was incredible, he went
early, pretty high score and one by one
he watched his competitors go and not match his score, so his
last run was a victory lap. (TORINO 2006 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 2) I’ll never forget coming down
to the bottom of the halfpipe and I knew I’d done something
pretty incredible and amazing when I saw my family there and they’re all in tears,
everyone’s crying and I realised that
we had made it. Please welcome
the Olympic medallists. You know, you’re
on the world stage. To win something like that
just carries so much weight. Nothing really
has the same ring as ‘I’m an Olympic gold
medallist’. You can be anywhere
in the world and say that and people will
turn their head. Shaun White. At the time I didn’t realise how much weight
it was going to carry. You know what I mean? I didn’t really understand
what was happening. Knowing that now, I would have
been terrified at the time. That was the most difficult
time almost of my life, I would say,
after that first Olympics. It was very hard to deal
with the new success. Everybody wants you
to do some sort of stunt. They’re like, come out,
you’re the extreme guy. We’ll hang you upside down,
we’ll slide you in, you know, and you’ll have
some sort of stunt and can you wear your
goggles on the stage? And I had to say no. I had to say no
to all these people because that wasn’t who I am. You’ve got to also learn
to ignore the haters, and I think Shaun did.
I mean, he had plenty. There’s so much in life
that could side-track you but I managed to keep my focus
on what I wanted to do. I wanted to show not only
myself and competitors and fans and all these people and
sponsors, all these things, that it wasn’t a fluke
the first time. The stakes have grown
in those four years. The tricks were becoming
more and more advanced, so going into that Olympic, Shaun was certainly
the talk of the Games. (VANCOUVER 2010 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 1) When you watch him
ride a halfpipe, you can see compared
to everyone else, his technique’s flawless,
he’s always on one edge. He’s never making
any scuff marks in the flat bottom
of the halfpipe. It’s always a clean edge
and he always gets the pop perfectly
off the wall and he’s always
going the biggest so he’s always going to be
at the top and winning. The judges want to see that you
can spin both directions, that you can take off
front side and back side. They want to see variety
and they want to see amplitude. They want to see that
you are getting height out of the halfpipe and that you are performing maybe even some of your
toughest tricks at the bottom of the pipe
at the end of your run, meaning you’re keeping speed
and amplitude throughout the run. He was so way more ahead
than anyone else, it was mad. So I’m standing up there
at the top of the halfpipe and I’m in first place. Riders are going, falling,
scores are coming in. No-one’s beaten my score
and I realise that the last rider had dropped and didn’t beat my score. So I had won the Olympics
and I’m overwhelmed with joy and just, I don’t know,
adrenaline and all these things and I realise, wow, I still
have one more run to go. And I had this special trick, the double McTwist 1260
in my back pocket just in case somebody
landed some once in a lifetime
sort of thing and I had to really pull
this out of the bag. Vancouver,
everyone’s talking about the double McTwist 1260, right? You didn’t even have to know
anything about snowboarding – you knew the term
double McTwist 1260. He’s won already. He could literally
go down the halfpipe and do straight airs
and he’s still won, but he wants
to prove to everyone that he’s still got
extra in him. I’ve got to do it.
I’d talked about it, people are expecting it,
I’m going for it, I don’t care
and that’s kind of like a deal that I made with myself before I even got there,
I’m like, I’m doing this. (VANCOUVER 2010 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 2) I saw his set-up,
it was not ideal and when you’re unleashing
a new trick like that, everything leading up to it
has to be on point. You have to get
the right landing, you have to get the
right amount of speed and when I watched him
approach it, I was like,
it’s not going to work. And Shaun, being the fierce
competitor that he is, figured it out. If you watch the footage
I actually landed pretty badly. It was a poor set-up for this
trick on the air before it and so, I don’t know, I was
just committed on doing it and I just, I made it work. He did not have
to throw that trick. That was, I think,
one of the most memorable moments of Vancouver and one of the most defining
moments in Shaun’s career. He already had the top score and then he goes and tries this
insanely hard trick at the end. That’s what we do as
skateboarders, as snowboarders. It’s the stage that you’re on. I mean, it was the venue, it was the time to unleash
something like that. People came up to me, they
still come up to me and they’re like, man, you won it. You should have just ridden
down with your shirt off, like waving the flag,
like straight down the middle, but you went and you did
something spectacular and one up
the run you had before and you didn’t have to do it, and that’s the spirit of,
you know, competition and being an athlete
and showing everything. I left it all out on
the mountain that day. I didn’t really hold back and
that’s… I was content after. Gold medallist
and Olympic champion, representing the United States
of America, Shaun White. I remember showing up
at an X-Games competition and feeling very,
feeling pretty hated in the world
of snowboarding. There’s a resentment there
when you’re that successful, but it’s jealousy,
what can you say? People want to be
in that position and they want a taste
of what you’re experiencing. There is that old adage,
it’s lonely at the top – it is. Been thinking about
this one for a while but it’s for a good cause
so I want to do it. I want to donate it, though. Right around that time
when he cut his hair, people kept asking,
“You’re the Flying Tomato, “without all that crazy hair, “what’s your new nickname
going to be?” And I remember him saying,
“Can you just call me Shaun?” Let’s try being Shaun White
for a little while. It’s a good cause. I did it for you,
Locks of Love. I don’t think it was
anything besides just looking
a little more serious and he was running
businesses at the time. He’s a man now, he’s not that
crazy kid that’s on the ramp, that’s trying anything
and trying to get attention. It’s so funny because competing
in 2006, I won the gold medal and it marked one of the most
difficult times of my life. A couple of years
later it’s like, the Vancouver Olympics
is coming up, if I just win this Olympics
it’s going to solve everything. It’s a great cause,
what you’re doing. Someone will appreciate
this and love it. I got to the Olympics,
I wanted to cement who I was in the sport and have another win at the
Olympics and I did it, and you finish that marathon and there’s just
another one waiting. Bye-bye. (OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
SOCHI 2014) Sochi was really hard. The halfpipe wasn’t brilliant,
it was offline. The pipe wall wasn’t
properly straight. I was now doing
two disciplines. I was going for slope style
and halfpipe, so my time was divided. We got there and
the slope style course was just out of control. People were getting hurt
left and right. I watched a friend of mine get knocked out right
in front of me and I’m like, I don’t know
if this is worth it. So I had to make this
extremely difficult decision to pull out of slope style,
which was horrible. What I was feeling inside was actually portrayed
physically in the course and it was tough, I mean,
just to see the things that happened online – he was
a coward and this happened, he should have given his spot
to the other person. I earned that spot, you know, I earned it and I can do
with it what I please. I think that he had
stressed himself out trying to stay at the top
of the halfpipe and then run over and play
catch-up in a slope-style scene that had just skyrocketed
in the few years that he wasn’t competing in it. I plan and I think out
every detail of what I’m going to wear, to what the sky’s
going to look like to, you know, what I should
probably eat. Every time before
a competition I eat a steak. I don’t know whether it’s
going to help me or not but this is the meal I eat. And my coach came back
and he’s just like, “Man, we’re in
the middle of Russia, “I can’t find you a steak
right now, it’s super late”. He heated up some old like,
pork that was in the fridge and I’m just like, “All right, “if you want to break
tradition tonight, OK”. So we get up there
and things are going well. I won the qualifying
with this great run. I’m like, “OK,
I can shake it off “and we can get through this”. And I remember
being there at the top and I had this certain song
playing in my pocket and it was just like watching a crazy movie unfold
before your eyes. I mean, I remember being there but I don’t remember being
in control of myself or what was happening. (SOCHI 2014 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 1) I remember watching it. I was down at the bottom
of the halfpipe and it’s just horrible because obviously I was rooting for
him, I wanted him to win. I don’t know, it just felt off. I’m not going to win
and I knew it. It was a very strange thing
to say that and it’s wild to be
this honest with you guys but I knew, I just felt it,
it’s just this weird gut thing and I was pounding myself
on the mountain and in my mind and all these things
that if I just keep beating myself over
the head with it, maybe it will just work out and my skill will be
so next level that I’ll ghost ride
through it and I’ll win. (SOCHI 2014 MEN’S SNOWBOARD
HALFPIPE FINAL – RUN 2) He had one experience
at the Olympics, winning it. Winning it on his first run, coming out of the Olympics
as the face of the Olympics. And so to be internally
dealing with failure, of not even making the podium, of not landing the run
you came to land, not doing the tricks
you came to do, not even competing
in both events, I can’t imagine
what that felt like. People felt for me even more, you know, to see the one
expected to win not win. People that were in the sport
that really disliked me were all of a sudden posting
on their Instagrams about how great I was and
he’s just a spectacular guy, and I’m like, you hated me
like just before this. It was amazing
to see the mind-set and the veil that got dropped over people’s eyes where
they realised that I’m just like them. I had the tricks to win. I had everything going my way and I just couldn’t
let myself do it. Yeah, winning’s great,
it makes you feel great. It’s like you accomplished
something, you set out a goal
and you did it and it’s amazing
and you earned that but, you know, it doesn’t
really equal happiness. And finally I had won the
Olympics and I was unhappy. I won the Olympics
I was unhappy, I lost the Olympics
and I was happy. He seemed to throw himself
into music and his band and that was sort of
where he found comfort. He went on tour with them
and got away from snowboarding and by the time I had seen him,
he seemed like a different guy. It’s changed me and I think
I’ve done more in business and in life and these things than I ever have after
winning the Olympics. I’ve started my own companies,
clothing lines. I’m a part owner
in Mammoth Mountain. I own a sports and music
festival called Air and Style. We do events all
over the world. I was in a band, I did
all sorts of fun things and lived my life and people
still called me the champ, and I realised
that you can’t really take away what happened
in the past. Every athlete today
was an aspiring one as a kid and had their heroes and sought autographs and
dreamed about being an athlete and so I think now, when
someone becomes an athlete, they get it. I had open heart surgeries
as a child and I wasn’t supposed
to be very active. The odds are stacked against
you from the beginning. The Make-a-Wish Foundation, they contacted me
at a young age and said, “Hey, we have a child “that would like
to come meet you “or come snowboard
if that’s possible, “or just to get to know you”. I was very honoured and humbled
and, yeah, of course, I mean, I would love
to do that for somebody. I mean, what an honour. Kyle had seen Shaun
snowboarding and had just been
so impressed with him that he wanted to meet him
and he wanted to snowboard with him for a day. The more they talked,
the more they realised that they had a lot in common, that they were both
from San Diego, they had both had
open heart surgery, they had the same surgeon. And then, I think what was just
the icing on the cake is that they compared scars
and the scars matched. My family spent so much time
in the hospitals like, this thing
that we went through and so now speaking
with other families, I get it. When Kyle told me about it, it was if he didn’t
even remember that he had a heart condition, that he had had
open heart surgeries and that his health was bad. What he knew was that that
was the best day of his life. And so it’s rewarding
not only for me but hopefully for them as well and I love to do it,
any chance I get, I say yes. Since 2008, Shaun has granted
at least 20 wishes to kids. It’s pretty great to feel
content in ways, you know, with my life,
with my business, with my friends, my family and to realise that
this is what I do, you know, I snowboard. I do many things
actually now in life, but this is one of them
and I’m great at it. And something pretty
amazing has happened and we knew it was
going to happen but it’s just amazing
that it’s finally here – skateboarding is now
in the Olympics. Snowboarding introduced
this youthful energy and this youthful viewership
into the Olympics, into the Winter Games, and I firmly believe that
skateboarding will do the same for the Summer Games. I would have to make a very
big decision at that point if I’m going to go
and try to compete at the Summer Games
for skateboarding. He’s just an incredible athlete
and amazing competitor across skateboarding
and snowboarding and I don’t think there’ll be anyone like him
for a long time. He’s going to keep
snowboarding, he’s not going to quit.
Are you kidding me? Even if he chose
to be out of the limelight, if he chose to never compete
again, never be on TV again, you’ve got to bet anything he’s going to be out there
snowboarding. To be a legend in a sport
you have to change it. You force the rest of the sport to become better
because you exist and that is why
Shaun is a legend. If I can inspire that
for the next generation that’s pretty amazing. The clothing line, damn. You’ve got to be quick. Hell, no, I’m, going
to drag this one out. (SHAUN WHITE ACHIEVED
AT TOKYO 2020)