Shannon Dunn

Shannon Dunn Biography

Snowboarding, Athlete (1972–)
Shannon Dunn became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in snowboarding with her bronze at the 1998 Winter Games.


Shannon Dunn was born on November 26, 1972, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Renowned for her ability to perform certain high-difficulty tricks in halfpipe competitions, she won back-to-back U.S. Championships and four Winter X Games medals. In addition to becoming the first woman to have her own pro-model snowboard, she was the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the sport.

Early Years

Shannon Dunn-Downing was born Shannon M. Dunn on November 26, 1972, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. A talented figure skater as a child, Dunn became more interested in skiing after the family moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when she was 9. After Steamboat Ski Resort first permitted snowboards on its slopes in 1987, she became hooked on the up-and-coming sport.

Professional Career

Dunn dropped out of the University of Colorado to pursue a career in snowboarding, a decision that helped thrust her to the forefront of a field mainly dominated by men. Displaying no fear in her performances, she was the first woman to perform such difficult tricks as the McTwist and the Frontside 720 in halfpipe competitions, maneuvers that helped her claim back-to-back U.S. Championships in the halfpipe in 1993 and '94. Her style and winning touch made her the first woman to have a pro-model snowboard named after her.

With snowboarding rapidly gaining in popularity, Dunn won the women's halfpipe competition at the inaugural Winter X Games in 1997. The following year, using a board she designed, Dunn finished third in the halfpipe at the 1998 Winter Games to become the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the sport.

Dunn continued to star as one of the world's top snowboarders, winning three more Winter X Games medals and several USSA Grand Prix Halfpipe events, until retiring to devote more time to family life.

Personal Life

In 1994, Shannon Dunn co-founded Boarding For Breast Cancer, a nonprofit, youth-focused education, awareness and fundraising foundation dedicated to increasing awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection.

Dunn changed her name in 1999 after marrying fellow snowboarder Dave Downing, with whom she has two sons. When not focused on being a full-time mother, she enjoys surfing during the summer months at their home in Encinitas, California.

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