In this era that forges freshly minted sports out of what were activities for out of school kids and tipsy adults on ski hills, the single biggest star athlete might be Shaun White.
ESPN transformed skateboarding from recreational activities into internationally televised events. And the Olympics made elite snowboarding a legitimate medal sport. Few men dominate both traditional sports venues like The Winter Olympics and modern media-driven events like The X-Games like White.
After compiling two Olympic Gold Medals and no fewer than 11 Winter X-Games medals on his snowboard, White picked up his second Summer X-Games Skateboarding Gold Medal this year, establishing himself as the current king of extreme sports.
White is continuing to cash in on that success by establishing his own skateboarding line (The Shaun White Supply Co.) and lending his name to a new brand of chewing gum (Whitemint) amongst other endorsements. He took a few minutes off during the recent warm weather season to discuss his new heights of success with CraveOnline.
CraveOnline: You scored a dramatic late win over Pierre-Luc Gagnon on the final day of the Vertical on your skateboard at X-Games 17. What were you thinking when you pulled off that win?
Shaun White: Like I said at the time, I'd be lying to say I wasn't standing up there at the top thinking, “You could blow it right now or you could just win it.”
CraveOnline: How do you get from that uncertainty to focusing and scoring the win?
Shaun White: You really want to know what goes on in our heads when we’re up there? Everything. Everything crosses our minds. In my case, for that last run, I'm glad I shook it all out of there and made my run. I started landing trick after trick. I was gaining confidence the whole time and came through. I just went with it.
I thought it turned out to be best run I’ve ever made here. I was stressed out, but I was just so excited to hit those tricks.
CraveOnline: Did it mean something special to beat Pierre-Luc Gagnon with that final run to win the Gold?
Shaun White: I thanked him right afterward for pushing me. If he hadn’t had such an amazing run, I don’t know if I’d have pushed it the way I did.
I went with a 720, a body varial frontside 540 and heelflip body varial frontside 540. I was trying a different run when I started out, and I thought it was better. But it wasn't. I made the good call of switching it out and doing that last run.
I don’t know if I’d have made it if PLG hadn’t pushed me.
CraveOnline: With your Summer X-Games Gold now, you’ve emerged as the dominant performer on a board in the Winter Olympics, the Winter X-Games and its warm weather cousin. What does that feel like?
Shaun White: It means a lot because I came close the previous year, but didn’t win it. I was starting to doubt myself. It was freaking me out. So, I came into (the Summer X-Games) really wanting to do well. I trained. I practiced. I changed my routine. I just stuck to my guns.
It felt so good. I’m beside myself.
CraveOnline: The Olympics are obviously huge, but the X Games continue to grow into a pretty big event of its own. Are you surprised how big the event has become?
Shaun White: It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I don’t know if people remember, but the first X Games were kind of all over the place with a lot of weird events. But it’s really become something special. I think if you ask me the same question five years from now, we’ll be more amazed then at how big they’ve become.
Photo credit – AP