SOCHI 2014

Can Shaun White Do It?

By Lisa Costantini | Nov. 20, 2013, 7:20 p.m. (ET)
Snowboarder Shaun White poses during a photo shoot in West Hollywood, Calif., in April 2013.

Snowboarder Shaun White has every reason to be exhausted, and jetlagged. The two-time Olympic gold medalist — who is currently training in Colorado after flying in from Austria days ago — is juggling a new time zone, and a new priority.

At the beginning of November, snowboarder Shaun White was touring as the lead guitarist in the band Bad Things. Since that time, he has switched his focus to becoming the first U.S. men’s halfpipe snowboarder to compete in three Olympic Winter Games. With less than 80 days to go until the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, we talked to the 27-year-old about crunch time, creaky ankles and what one has to do with the other. Here’s what he had to say.

How do you find time for everything you have going on in your life?

My training on the mountain has changed dramatically. I used to go up and ride all day long, and I just don’t do it anymore. I show up, do a couple runs, and that’s the best I’m going to be all day because I slowly get worse. So now I show up, get warmed up and I ride my heart out for two hours and then I leave. And that is probably why you see me doing so many other things off the hill because I realized that once those two hours were up I’ve got to fill my time with something else. I think quality over quantity has been the biggest thing for me.

Are you planning on fitting in any more shows with your band, Bad Things, before the Games?

We just played a show in New Orleans called the Voodoo Fest and it went really well, but it definitely puts a strain trying to jump between the two. Because obviously training for me takes a priority right now. But it’s such a fun way to take my mind off things and refresh. If you stick in the mountains, stick to the same thing too much, you lose that motivation. The music and playing in the band has definitely given me that distraction to where I come back and I’m excited.

Any update on the release date of the debut album, which was supposed to come out before Halloween?

No, I wish we did. We have one single out, “Anybody,” but I think we are planning on releasing another song as like a thank you to the fans who are hanging tight waiting for the album to come out.

At 27 years old, do you feel older when you’re on the mountain?

Shaun White spins en route to winning the FIS Snowboard
Halfpipe World Cup at the U.S. Grand Prix at Park City Mountain
on Feb. 1, 2013 in Park City, Utah.

As far as competing goes, I never really realized I was getting a bit older until I did my run and the announcer at the bottom was like, ‘You’re the oldest competitor today’ and I was like, ‘Woah!’ A bit of a shocker, but no, I don’t feel any different. I do find that I approach the competitions much differently now. I think that with age I’ve been able to learn a lot more about myself. I know what my body needs to recover — when to push forward and when not to — and I think that’s the only thing I’m carrying with me that I think a lot of the other guys might not have. I do have the experience; this would be my third Olympics. I know somewhat of the drill of what goes on.

What will be new to you is competing in two events — slopestyle will be making its Olympic debut in Sochi. Are you hoping to be the first person to achieve an Olympic gold medal in the new discipline?

I don’t know, it’s hard for me to think about it as I don’t know the last contest where I wasn’t trying to win. I don’t look at any other spot, so that’s what I’m kind of aspiring for. I would love to go and compete at the Olympics and put down a great run and hopefully do well in that event.

Who do you consider to be your biggest competition on the mountain?

With the halfpipe, I would say that [Swiss] Iouri Podladchikov, also known as iPod, he is definitely a talented guy who has been working hard. I kind of want to see what he’s been up to; and then in slopestyle probably either [Canadians] Mark McMorris or Sebastien Toutant. I think those guys are going to be going for it in the slopes.

What do you think about the Dew Tour next month in Breckenridge, Colo., being the first official team selection event of the season?

That was really interesting. I can’t speak to whether it’s good or bad — because I think we’ll have to find out — but I don’t think this has ever happened before, combining an Olympic qualifier with a pre-existing event. But this will be the first time I’ll get to see all my competition in one place. For me it will be a bit of a coming out in the slopestyle to show what I’ve been working on, and to see what everyone else has been working on.

What can we expect to see from you?

I’m definitely going to be trying to put out some triples in the slopestyle course, because that’s what kind of eluded me last season. But for the pipe, I really don’t know. I’m just going to show up and wait and see what everyone else is doing and then build my run accordingly. So that one’s a big question mark.

You suffered an ankle injury at the Winter X Games a year-and-a-half ago, and then again just recently while training for slopestyle in New Zealand?

This one was annoying because it was the other ankle. The ankle injury from X Games… I had chipped a bone in my left ankle and New Zealand was my right ankle. I had to take time off, but ankles, man, you need ‘em. They’re creaky, but I’m just thankful it wasn’t something more severe. That’s how the sport goes. It’s little bumps and bruises here and there… but I’m hoping they hold up for the remaining time here. 

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