King of the slopes: Shaun's style
Updated: 2010-12-12 09:47
By Lei Lei (China Daily)
His is the most recognized face of snowboarding today, something he promotes as easily as the transition he makes between snow and skateboarding.
"In 2016, skateboarding may be listed in the Summer Olympics. I participate in both sports so it would be pretty amazing if I could achieve a gold medal in both Winter and Summer Olympics."
Shaun White in action is a blur of excitement, whether he is on the skateboard (above) or the snowboard. Robyn Beck / Agence France-Presse
The ambitions are only just starting for the 24-year-old.
"They are talking about slopestyle being in the Winter Olympics, so I will compete in two different events at the Winter Games. That will be cool as well."
Not bad for a young man born with a congenital heart defect that had him go through two open-heart surgeries before he was even 1. He was too young to remember much about the operations, but White is glad his athletic success has brought hope to those with the same problem.
The Californian-born snowboarder entered his first amateur contest at the age of 7 and won, earning him a wildcard entry into the Nationals where he placed just outside of the top 10.
The legend was beginning.
White closing the market at the New York Stock Exchange. Stan Honda / Agence France-Presse
His mother decided to send a home video of White to Burton, the world's largest skateboarding manufacturer, just as the company was developing a kid-sized snowboard line. The video impressed Burton enough to offer the 7-year-old White a sponsorship deal. With Burton behind him, he turned professional at 13.
After winning five national titles as an amateur, White scored his first major success as a pro in 2001 at the Arctic Challenge. By the time he celebrated his 16th birthday, he had already earned his first Winter X Games medal.
White was making a name for himself in skateboarding as well, and he also turned pro in that when he was 17.
Between the two sports, White now holds 16 XGames medals, 10 of which are gold. In 2003, he became the first athlete to compete and earn medals in both the Summer and Winter XGames, in two different sports.
For White, snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing - a part-time hobby - all bring perfect balance to his life.
Being a celebrity has its perks - White at the MTV Movie Awards Valerie Macon / Agence France-Presse
"I compete in snowboarding and skateboarding because these are what I do, and I feel I'm equally good at both. Surfing is something that always been there for enjoy.
"I would have given up snowboarding a long time ago if I didn't skateboard. For me, I need the break in summer to completely forget about snowboarding, so I can get excited again after the summer season."
The desire to win is a driving force, but success exacts a price.
"I wish it was easy, but a lot of work goes in before the competition - learning the tricks, the crashes and the bruises and all the other things that go with it," says White.
"There are a lot of things I do for fun but snowboarding and skateboarding are fulfilling. It's rewarding after putting in the time, taking the crashes and falls and overcoming all those obstacles."
Like every young man his age, White is into rock 'n' roll music.
"I'm a big fan. I love to play music. I won a car and guitar from a snowboard contest when I was 16. After I started to play, I was hooked. I played every single day for like, three hours a day."
Being young, he appeals to the young, and the budding media darling has become a trendsetter in everything from fashion to games.
In 2005, he appeared in snowboarding documentary First Descent. Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip is a video game which has sold 3 million copies since its launch in 2008.
A year later, version two of the game Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage appeared.
He now has his own designer clothing line Shaun White 4 Target, and he works with his brothers on the designs for a stylish and affordable line of T-shirts, woven shirts, shorts and denim jeans for boys and young men.
Fashion eyewear maker Oakley has been a sponsor since 1998, and White worked with Oakley on a pair of sunshades he named The Montefrio, which was released at the same time as Oakley's signature series A-Frame goggles.
Recently, Shaun White has lent his name to events, including the world-class TTR Air and Style snowboarding extravaganza in Beijing last week, which he endorsed as the ambassador for the six-star snowboarding tournament.
For White, the world is his stage, and he is preparing for the performances of a lifetime. And for his fans, they are waiting for the encore at the next Games.
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