Shaun White is one of the most accomplished athletes on the planet. An Olympian, X Games champion, and friend of Tony Hawk’s starting at the age of nine, White has had a life and career worth envying, and at 31, he may still have quite a bit left in the engine. So what have been the biggest moments of his career so far?
5. Going Pro at 17 Years Old
White has been a sponsored snowboarder from the age of seven onward, but it was his prodigious skateboarding skills during that same time that led him to be befriended and tutored by none other than Tony Hawk. By 17, White had established himself as a professional skateboarder and a burgeoning X Games veteran known as “the Flying Tomato,” as he hinted at the dual-sport potential he would eventually fulfill in unparalleled fashion.
4. Winning Olympic Gold at 19 Years Old
View this post on Instagram
Today went from the worst, to one of the best days of my life. I fell on my first two runs for finals, and ended up landing my 3rd and final run! Not only did I win the competition, I ended up getting a perfect 100 and securing my spot on the US Olympic Team! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and stood by my side. We’re going to Korea💪🏼 #Olympics #Victory #Thankful 📸: @ryanwach
In his first Olympic competition at the snowboard halfpipe, White nearly disqualified himself by posting an atrocious 37.7 out of 50 on his first run. With follow-up runs of 45.3 and a record-breaking 46.8, though, White took home his first gold medal, introducing himself as one of the most exciting athletes in the world and generating great moments like this:
3. Becoming the Winningest X Games Competitor Ever
Shaun White has been competing in the X Games for literally half his life, so I guess it makes some sense that he has more X Games medals than…anyone. In fact, not only has White medaled more than anyone, but he’s won gold more than anyone as well, a feat he first achieved in 2003 and would continue for ten years in a row across both skateboarding and snowboarding. Oh yeah, he’s also the only person to ever compete in both Summer and Winter X Games. It’s just sort of a cherry on top that he’s really good.
2. Inventing A Trick That Only He Can Do
As someone who hasn’t picked up a skateboard since 5th grade, let me be the first to tell you that the frontside heelflip 540 body varial looks about as difficult to do as it is to say, which is probably why White is the only person to successfully land the trick he’s thankfully dubbed “The Armadillo.” He’s pulled the trick out most frequently while skating on the Dew Tour, often using it on the clinching run of vert competitions. Unbelievably, though, the Armadillo isn’t even the most famous trick White has invented, as his double McTwist 1260 in the 2010 Winter Olympics remains one of the most clutch performances by a snowboarder ever. “The Tomahawk,” as it’s since been known, was the first double McTwist 1260 ever landed, a move he used to cap-off his gold medal victory lap in that year’s halfpipe competition.
1. Becoming the Winningest Olympic Snowboarder Ever
It was a long time coming for Shaun White, whose disappointing performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi left him frustrated and hungry to prove himself in 2018. Following the failure to medal in 2014, things didn’t get much easier for White in the lead up to his redemption run, as he suffered an injury in October requiring 62 facial stitches. He’d overcome the injury in time to compete, though, and with a third gold medal win in snowboarding halfpipe, the 100th total gold medal in the United States Winter Olympic history, White cemented his Olympic legacy as the winningest snowboarder the competition has ever seen.