Shaun White speaks during a press conference at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 14, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
In the question of skateboarding or snowboarding, Shaun White has definitively chosen snow.
The three-time Olympic snowboarding gold medalist will turn his focus away from making the U.S. skateboarding team for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, potentially so he can prepare to defend his halfpipe title in Beijing in 2022, White told the Associated Press this weekend.
“The decision became less about going for a skate and more about, am I willing to walk away from snow?” White said. “It just was going in that direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it and I can’t wholeheartedly choose this path with what I’ve got going on snow.”
Skateboarding is one of four new sports on the Olympic program for the Tokyo Games, and it seemed a natural jump for White, whose skateboarding talent was recognized when he was a child by the legendary Tony Hawk. After spotting his talent at a California skate park when White was just 9 years old, Hawk took White under his wing and mentored him for several years.
White went on to become the first athlete to capture gold at the Summer and Winter X Games in two different sports. His five Summer X Games medals between 2005 and 2011 came in the vert, or halfpipe event, which is not the same as the park event that will debut in Tokyo this summer.
As an adult, the 33-year-old White has mostly made his name as a snowboarder, with wins at the 2006, 2010 and 2018 Games. His foray back into elite skateboarding resulted in a 13th-place finish at last fall’s world championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, behind three other Americans.
White has taken a long hiatus from snowboarding since his triumph in PyeongChang in 2018 to focus on skateboarding, but certainly hasn’t ruled out making a run at the 2022 Olympics, where he would be 35.
“I basically told myself I’d go here and give it everything I have, and then, after this competition, see how I stack up with the other skaters and then make the decision to fully commit to the Olympics,” White said at worlds in September.
It appears he has – just as a snowboarder.