The Undisputed king of the slopes for nearly a decade, Shaun White was to snowboarding what Michael Jordan was to basketball or Tony Hawk to skateboarding. Bringing the extreme sport to the spotlight, White had been both an idol and arch rival to many other snowboarders of his time. But in recent years, the one they used to call the Flying Tomato or The Animal hasn’t really been seen, especially not on the halfpipes he used to gain his fame from. Here, we take a look back at Shaun White’s past, see what happened, and see what Shaun White is doing now in 2018.
Shaun White- The Flying Tomato
Born in San Diego, California on September 3, 1986, it may surprise some that the expert athlete we all know could have easily not survived past his first birthday. Born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot which consists of 4 distinct other defects, the infant White had to go through two major open heart surgeries before he turned one. As a result, he was often chided by his mother to take it easy, but with a bit of encouragement from his older brother took up both skateboarding and snowboarding at a very early age. By 7 years old, White would already have his first snowboarding sponsorship, gaining attention where he learned to board on Bear Mountain and Mammoth Mountain, a resort he’d later own a minority share in. In fact, by the time White was 9 years old, he had caught the eye of another extreme sport legend, Tony Hawk, who would later push him to go pro at the age of 17 in skateboarding. As a curious side note, during his snowboarding, his mother would often tell him to slow down and have him snowboard switch (reversing the dominant foot and the non-dominant in position) to try to get him to do so. This would later come in handy when he would go extremely fast and perform his risk stunts. So much for trying to slow him down.
Shaun White’s teen years and early 20’s would be filled with success and glory. Off the snow, White would win the title of Action Sports Tour Champion, as well as winning in the Summer X Games for skateboarding, which when paired with his snowboarding skills has made him the first person to ever win in two separate sports in both the Summer and Winter X Games. Starting off in 2002, Shaun White would begin to dominate the sport, first with a pair of silvers in 2002 for Superpipe and Slopestyle events at the Winter X Games, and then golds for both events every year until 2007, where he’d do a repeat performance of his first competition for Superpipe and get a bronze in Slopestyle, despite winning gold at the 2006 Turin Olympic games for Halfpipe. The following year he would get a bronze in Slopestyle but return to the gold in Superpipe and continue to dominate through 2013. In 2010, he would win gold again at the Vancouver Olympic games on the Halfpipe yet again. During this same time, he would win 2 golds in the Summer X games for the Vert Skateboard segments. Such consistently good performances would gain him and his sport the attention of the mainstream audience, as well as get him sponsorships galore and even a videogame. However, it would seem that Shaun Whites career and image would begin to crack.
The Sochi Olympics, Build Up and After Math
It was in 2012 when things began to turn a bit sour for Shaun White. While in Nashville, Tennessee, Shaun White happened to get quite drunk as he attended the wedding of Patrick Carney, the Black Keys drummer, and while within the Loews Vanderbilt hotel, had decided to pull the fire alarm and have the hotel evacuated, while also destroying a hotel phone according to reports. This would lead staff to call the police, and for White to attempt to escape via cab, where a stander-by convinced the driver not to allow for a get away. This in turn angered White, who in turn kicked the individual and tried to flee, tripping and hitting his head against a fence. After a quick check at the hospital, White would be arrested on two misdemeanor charges with the individual he kicked not wishing to press charges. This event would not affect his snowboarding that year, however the 2014 Sochi Olympics would prove to be a turning point.
Working up the the 2014 Olympics, it would seem that much of the community who he had brought fame were none too keen on still having him around as their king. Whether as a result of being too good at his craft, or appearing too commercial, even his team mate at the Sochi Games, Danny Davis, said that White, who would end up not performing to what was then considered standard for him was a “good thing” for snowboarding. At times, it felt like the only people White could rely on to wish him well were his fans, including a child whom came to the games as a result of the Make-a-Wish foundation, a group which White has supported nearly his entire career. After qualifying for the finals, he at one point hopped the fence and met with the child. This would likely be the highlight for both of them, as in only a few short minutes it would be found that for the first time in 8 years, White’s name would not appear on top.
After the Sochi loss, Shaun stated in an interview that he would give music a try, forming the band Bad Things with some friends, but not give up on snowboarding. The latter would seem to be the failure of the two, as by 2016, despite outwardly wanting to participate in the Winter X Games, either by design of the promoters or the absence of will to attend, Shaun White did not come forward. This was a double whammy of a surprise, as for the games, they had lost their biggest financial and main stream draw, and for White, who had only missed one X games in the previous 12 years. In terms of his band, in 2014 they started a tour and released a debut album from Warner Records.
What’s Shaun White Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Despite some predictions of success with his band, Bad Things, things seem pretty up in the air (pardon the pun) for Shaun White at time of writing. The band has yet to release any tour dates with a new singer (David LeDuke, their previous left in 2015), having been silent for the past few years, and there have only been a very limited number of appearances of Shaun White in the press since the 2014 Sochi Olympics. However, with reports that Shaun White still has at least $15 Million in the bank, it can be safe to assume that White could live out whatever new venture he wishes to in relative comfort. Where ever he happens to be, we wish him well.