Who Is Shaun White?
Born in San Diego in 1986, Shaun White began skateboarding after following his older brother to the nearby YMCA, and took up snowboarding at the age of six. Following his top performances at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games, and a disappointing fourth-place finish in the halfpipe in 2014, White in 2018 became the first snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals. The "Flying Tomato" has also claimed several medals at the Winter and Summer X Games.
Bidding to become the first snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals, White had his hands full against some of the younger competition at the PyeongChang Games. He faced a formidable obstacle in the halfpipe final, when Japan's Ayumu Hirano landed back-to-back double cork 1440s to surge to the top spot with a 95.25 score. But White responded on his final run by landing his own back-to-back 1440s, earning a score of 97.75 that gave him the win and also marked the 100th overall gold for Team USA in Winter Olympics competition.
White nearly didn't even get a chance to compete at the Games, following a dangerous crash in October 2017 that landed him in intensive care for five days and resulted in 62 stitches, but he recovered in time to make his bid for history.
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 was criticized as being too hazardous. With the remaining three American snowboarders failing to qualify for the slopestyle, there was 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, coming in fourth place for the United States. Russian competitor Iouri Podladtchikov took home the gold and Japanese snowboarders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won the silver and bronze metals, respectively.
Outside of a cameo appearance in the movie Friends With Benefits (2011), White has largely stayed away from appearing on the big screen. However, he made a guest appearance on the animated series American Dad! and also co-produced the Disney Channel TV movie Cloud 9.
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 five.
White first got into skateboarding after following his older brother, Jesse, to the nearby Encinitas YMCA. After he took up snowboarding at the age of six, 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 nine. 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 seven 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.
Intoxication and Harassment Controversies
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 ensued — 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.
In 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer of White's rock band, filed a lawsuit against the snowboarding champ. The suit alleged that White had forced her to look at sexually explicit images and videos and had wrongfully terminated her from the band. A settlement was reached the following year.
The issue was revived during White's turn in the Olympic spotlight in early 2018. Asked to discuss the allegations in a press conference following his halfpipe victory, he said he was "here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip." He later apologized for referring to the allegations as "gossip," and gave a statement to The New York Times that said: "I regret my behavior of many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone — particularly someone I considered a friend — uncomfortable."
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