Born in San Diego, California, on September 3, 1986, Shaun White had two cardiac surgeries before the age of 5 due to a congenital heart defect. He began skateboarding after following his older brother to the nearby YMCA, and took up snowboarding at the age of 6. Known as the "Flying Tomato," White is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and has won several medals at the Winter and Summer X Games. While participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, White placed fourth in the halfpipe, an event that he had previously dominated.
Professional snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun Roger White was born on September 3, 1986, in San Diego, California. Born with a congenital heart defect, White had two cardiac surgeries before the age of 5. He first got into skateboarding after following his older brother, Jesse, to the nearby Encinitas YMCA. After he took up snowboarding at the age of 6, his mother ordered him to slow down by telling him he could only board backward, or switch, a skill that would help further his career.
White has competed in the Winter X-Games since 2002, amassing eight medals, including the first four-peat by a male athlete in one discipline: The slopestyle. In 2006, he won the gold medal in the men's halfpipe at the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. He went on to win another gold in the men's halfpipe in 2010, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
White is also a professional skateboarder, gaining inspiration from legend Tony Hawk, whom White met at age 9. In 2006, he won first place at the Dew Action Sports Tour's Right Guard Open in skateboard vert. He is the only skater to land the bodyvarial frontside 540.
Known for his shock of red hair, he is often called the "Flying Tomato," or Il Pomodoro Volante in Italy, where he is also popular. White signed his first sponsorship at age 7 with Burton snowboards. He has had a full roster of sponsors throughout his career, including T-mobile, Target, Mountain Dew and HP. His career has also spurred several promotional projects, including a snowboarding video game, a clothing line and several snowboarding DVDs.
Trouble with the Law
In September 2012, White was arrested for public intoxication and vandalism after a rowdy hotel stay in Nashville, Tennessee. White allegedly destroyed a phone and pulled a fire alarm in the hotel, causing patrons to evacuate the building. According to reports, White attempted to flee the hotel in a taxi, and when a hotel patron tried to stop him from leaving, White kicked him and ran from the hotel. A chase ensured—the patron pursued White on foot—until White fell, hitting his head on a nearby fence. White was treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital and after his release, he was arrested and booked by officers.
Sochi 2014 Olympics
On February 5, 2014—just one day before 29 snowboarders competed in the qualifying round for the slopestyle in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia—White drew the media's attention after announcing that he would not be competing in the course. One of the top contenders in 2014's Winter Olympics, White made the decision not to compete after discussing it with his teammates and calling the new course "intimidating."
The announcement also came after two snowboarders, Torstein Horgmo and Marika Enne, suffered injuries practicing on the daunting new course, which has been criticized as being too hazardous. With the remaining three American snowboarders failing to qualify for the slopestyle, there is no representation from the U.S. in the event. White instead decided to focus his attention on the halfpipe.
While participating in the halfpipe event, White was expected to take home the gold. However, the snowboarder placed lower than anticipated, bring coming in fourth place for the United States. Russian competitor Iouri Podladtchikov took home the gold and Japanese snowboarders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka took won the silver and bronze metals, respectively.
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