Q&A: Snowboard impresario Shaun White's Olympic victory lap rolls on
Shaun White holds up his second Olympic gold medal in Vancouver last week. (Photo: Getty)
The Vancouver victory lap Shaun White started after clinching his second Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medal last week rolls on.
After “running wild” doing appearances in New York, the 23-year-old Californian was about to board a flight from LaGuardia Airport to London this week and start the European leg of his victory tour when amNewYork caught up with him.
You already had gold, but you went out and scored 48.4 out of 50 on a victory lap. Is that ruthless?
You said “ruthless”? Yeah, I’ll go for it. I basically was at the top, and I had more to do, so why not lay down the hammer?
When is a snowboarder’s prime?
I definitely feel like I’m in it. Gosh, inventing five new tricks in one year and winning gold at the X Games and defending my title at the Olympics? Right now, I’m strong, I’m confident, I’m feeling good.
So what’s next?
When I won [in Torino in 2006], I was blown away because everybody was like, “What are you going to do now? You’re over! Just retire!” And I was like, “Man, I’m just getting started!” I definitely still feel that same way. I’m 23 and I still see tricks when I close my eyes.
What happened in the halfpipe as you approached that final trick, The Tomahawk?
I actually landed flat on my hip before it, so I lost a lot of speed. You can see in the replay, it’s pretty hard to get up that wall, and yeah, man, I just launched it. I basically just used the willpower to land it, and it was totally worth it.
Have you perfected that trick?
I definitely feel like it’s mine. I can confidently throw it and I can rely on it to land in events. ... It’s in the bag now.
In the halfpipe, how important is your ability to just not fall?
It’s basically consistency — being able to land your run on command. You’re at the Olympics, they say go, and you have to land. It’s something that is hard to teach.
Do you get out on East Coast slopes much? I do a bit of riding over here [at the U.S. Open]. It’s definitely not what I’m used to, obviously. It’s so warm on the West Coast. You get some harsh weather out here, so the riders you guys produce are weather-bitten and used to the cold.
During your runs, is there any fear?
I wouldn’t use “fear” to describe it. ... The time I do feel fear is outside of competition. When I’m learning these tricks, it’s a bit frightening. ... This year, especially, pushing for the Olympics, people were getting hurt all over the place. Broken collarbones, torn rotator cuffs — friends got knocked out.
In order, what are your favorite boards to ride and why?
Man, that’s a tough one! If you ask me later on in the year, I’ll probably say snowboard, surfboard, skateboard, because the summer is ending. But right now, all I’ve been doing is snowboarding, so it’d probably be surfing, skating, snowboarding. It always changes. ... You always want what you can’t have.
Will your wish to visit the White House be granted?
I hope so, man. It would be awesome. I’m waiting for the call from the big man, Obama. ... You win a medal for the U.S., it feels like the right thing to do: Go meet the president. It’d be an honor.