Today I had the privilege of speaking with iconic American gold medalist Shaun White.
He spoke about everything from his next big trick to upstage the show-stopping Double McTwist and his experiences in Vancouver, to his love of music and the moment his friend almost squirted ketchup on his medal at dinner.
I hope you enjoy this insight into the life of a champion.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Shaun White put the rest of the snowboard world on notice today when he said the one thing his fellow halfpipe competitors didn’t want to hear: He still has room to improve.
In an exclusive interview with the snowboarding legend on Friday afternoon, White said there is definitely the potential to get better and to throw down bigger tricks than ever before.
For those who watched him celebrate his gold medal on Wednesday with his much-hyped Double McTwist 1260 (two board-over-head flips with three-and-a-half turns), it’s mind blowing to imagine just what could be next in line.
“I’ve got to turn some more music on and get inspired,” White said. “Whenever I’m relaxed and I can turn on some music and think about what I’m doing and what I want to do, it usually comes out.
“It happens at the randomest times. I’ve had dreams about tricks. I’m hoping to do more double corks, obviously—it’s a trick that wins events these days—and I think the possibilities there are somewhat new and not tapped in to yet. I definitely think that I’ve got some more improving to do there. So I’m excited about it.”
The 23-year-old, who flew overnight to Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show today, is a keen music lover, as well as an ambassador for AT&T’s Team USA Soundtrack, an initiative that allows music and sports fans to download exclusive songs, videos, and ringtones with proceeds benefiting Team USA.
“I actually competed in a competition where I won a guitar," White added. "It just gave me a whole new love for music and appreciation, and it really turned me on to different bands and different groups. And from there I just got more inspired and more motivated.
“I think everybody can agree that you can hear a certain song and it will put you in a certain mood, and that’s just the beauty of music and I am so inspired by that.
“Music has been a thing which really defines the moods and situations that I’m in. I actually have my iPhone in my pocket playing through the speaker, and everybody’s like ‘What is that? A boombox thing going?’ You know, speakerbox action.
“I like all kind of rock and roll songs, and that’s like the really cool thing for me that I’ve just started playing guitars so any kind of guitars in the whole deal has been great.”
Unfortunately for White, there were no guitars handed out in Vancouver, just solid gold medals. As much as he enjoys rocking out to AC/DC and strumming along to The Darkness’ I Believe in a Thing Called Love , I’m sure he’s more than happy with his most recent prize.
But last night, for the second straight time after an Olympic victory, the posterboy of U.S. snowboarding almost ruined his medal.
After winning gold in Torino, White misplaced his medal several times, including losing it in a dresser under a book in his house. His mom even had to take it in to be dry cleaned because he had got the ribbon dirty during a night out celebrating.
In Vancouver, it was nearly déjà vu.
“It’s a dangerous place out there,” White joked. “We were eating last night and my friend was eating a burger and ketchup flew literally inches from the ribbon. I made a vow not to wear it at dinner any more, which is tough. I don’t want to take it off.
“It was just a funny scenario to have my mom send the ribbon and the actual medal to the dry cleaner. I was absolutely dying when I found out she did that, but this time around I think I’m going to take a little more care.”
With the medal stored in a safe place, White can now look forward to the rest of the Games, the summer’s skateboarding season, and some much-needed relaxation time back home with family and friends.
He said with the bedlam surrounding his victory on Wednesday night, he had little time to stop and take stock of what he had achieved. He didn't even get a chance to eat.
He said, “I went straight from the event and I did two giant press conferences and then after that I ran to the nearest place to get some food because I hadn’t eaten anything.
“I don’t like to eat before my event. We’re trying to get out of the pipe and I think it might weight me down. I wish I had a cheeseburger. I would have destroyed it."
The Olympic champion, also the first to three-peat in SuperPipe at the Winter X Games, said he now plans to do a media tour of Europe, visit friends and fans in Japan, and get back home to the west coast to eat Mexican food and enjoy the summer.
There may even be a chance for White to learn some more stunts on his skateboard.
“I’d love to put down some new tricks. I’ve always wanted to land a 1080, it’s been a beast of a burden for me," he said.
“Usually the thing that signifies that I’m done with the winter and all that is that I start skateboarding. I have freckles you know, so I don’t really tan, it’s like a ‘more freckles’ situation and red, just like rock lobster, so I’m looking forward to getting a nice sun burn."
White was speaking as a representative for AT&T, who has team up with world-renowned recording artists such as 3 Doors Down, The All-American Rejects, Mariah Carey, Gloriana, Green River Ordinance, Hoobastank, Puddle Of Mudd, and Sugarland to create the exclusive soundtrack for athletes as they pursue their dream of competing in the Olympic Games.
Shine, by 3 Doors Down is currently No. 11 in iTunes' rock chart, The Finish Line by Train is No. 38 in the pop chart, and Rascal Flatts' Unstoppable is No. 3 in the country chart.