When the Bleacher Report team first approached me on Thursday evening about representing the site at a teleconference interview of Shaun White the next day, I was ecstatic.
It was about five minutes later when I realized I’ve never interviewed someone that famous before, and the nerves kicked in.
It was about two minutes after that when I realized I have never interviewed anyone at all before, and the nerves really kicked in.
I eventually calmed myself down enough to get a decent night’s sleep, but would you believe I dreamed about the interview?
There I was in my dream, sitting on the phone, my chance to ask one of the most famous athletes in the world a question, and what do I come with?
Why is your hair so red?
However, the real interview was nothing like my dream. Yes, I did ask Shaun (first name basis, you like that?!) not one, but two questions, and no, they did not have anything to do with his hair.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I kept getting images in my head of the press conferences on television when all the reporters shout their questions until one of them gets pointed at and is given the floor. Would I have to do that? And how can you point at someone over the phone?
As the teleconference began, and I pressed record on my recording device a strange sense of excitement came over me. We heard first from host Ann Wolf, who turned over the proceedings to representatives from AT&T and the United States Olympic Committee.
They briefly discussed the partnership between AT&T and the U.S. Olympic Committee, and how AT&T has been monumental in sponsoring the U.S. Olympic team. AT&T is providing the soundtrack for the U.S. Olympic team, which you should check out on iTunes.
Shaun himself, in Chicago for an appearance on Oprah, made a brief statement about his love of music and the role it plays in setting the mood for his runs.
Then, without warning, the question and answer session began. Members of the media were informed to press *1 on their on their phones if they wanted to ask Shaun a question.
Without a thought of which question from my list I’d ask, I immediately pressed *1. Thankfully, I wasn’t the fastest on the draw, because Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner was given first crack at asking the gold medalist a question.
I quickly decided on my question, and took notes on Shaun’s answer to Mr. Williams’s question, which included, to my surprise, as well as Shaun’s, that he enjoyed watching men’s figuring skating while in Vancouver.
Shaun wrapped up his answer, and the host announced, “Okay, we’re going to go to the line of Jon Schuman with BleacherReport.com, please go ahead.” With that, I was talking live to Shaun White. My question was, “How does winning your second gold medal compare to your first?”
Shaun started by saying that it is hard to compare. In Torino in 2006 he was only 19, and things went by in a blur. Immediately after winning the competition he was rushed by a police escort to the bottom of the mountain, on to the podium, and had a gold medal thrown around his neck.
In Vancouver, Shaun said it was a completely different experience. He had the opportunity to enjoy the city and the “whole Olympic vibe.”
He concluded his answer by stating, “This time around was just unbelievable. I can’t even describe it. I think it was by far a better experience.”
Over the next 20 minutes, I listened to representatives from various major media outlets, such as ESPN, AOL.com, and US Weekly ask Shaun a variety of questions.
He discussed the kayaking trip he went on in Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver on a day off, and the giant seal that they spotted.
He shared with us his pre-race ritual of playing music through the speakers of his iPhone, which he keeps in the pocket of his jacket. Why play the music aloud instead of wearing earphones? Because he gets stopped by people to talk so often that he ends up spending the whole day taking his earphones in and out.
He talked about how he was surprised how much he liked Rascal Flatts after a friend tried to sell him on the band.
He chatted about his plans to spend time in Europe and Japan in the near future to see friends and do a media tour.
He joked about how he’ll rush to an In-N-Out Burger when he gets back home to California and his inability to tan because of his freckles, stating that exposure to the sun just becomes a “more freckles situation.”
He commented about his love of playing the guitar (favorite song to play, Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love") and his plans to go to the Coachella music festival this summer.
He described the close call the ribbon of his new gold medal had with a squirt of ketchup from a friend’s burger the night before.
He was so personable, friendly, and well-spoken. A true class act.
As the questions died down, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ask Shaun the other question that was burning on my mind, so I pressed *1 a second time.
I asked, “When you were making your gold medal run, did you think you had the speed to pull off the McTwist at the end, because it looked like you didn’t have the speed you were probably hoping for?”
Shaun acknowledged that he lost a ton of speed due to the landing of the previous trick, but that, “I knew I had it in me...so I just launched it anyway. Why not?”
I responded to Shaun by telling him that I think the fans appreciate him going for the big trick even though he didn’t need to since he had already wrapped up the gold medal.
Shaun concluded by saying, “No biggie, I go out and ride for them [the fans] most of the time anyway.”
I was the last member of the media to ask Shaun a question, which in itself was pretty cool.
Getting the opportunity to interview Shaun White was truly a dream come true—a great dream, not the type where you ask someone famous why their hair is so red.
I would like to thank the Bleacher Report team, especially Joe Yanarella and Aron Glatzer, for the opportunity to represent Bleacher Report. It was truthfully one of the best experiences of my life.
Like Shaun told me about his experience in Vancouver, “I can’t even describe it.”