X Games Feats on Snowboard Keep Skateboard Star Warm

Shaun White says the time limitations of being a world-class snowboarder and skateboarder help motivate him to stay sharp in both disciplines.
Shaun White says the time limitations of being a world-class snowboarder and skateboarder help motivate him to stay sharp in both disciplines. (By Arno Balzarini -- Associated Press)
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By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 26, 2008

Being a Californian by birth, Shaun White admittedly has a little reluctance when it comes time to trek to the snow. It's as if his summer vacation full of skateboarding is over and it's back to work.

But being a two-sport star as an Olympic-gold snowboarder and Dew Tour champion skateboarder is what White, 21, says makes him equally talented at both.

"There's always something to look forward to," said White, who will compete in X Games 12 today in the snowboarder X, snowboard slopestyle and snowboard big air, along with the snowboard superpipe tomorrow.

"Those summer months are reeeal good," he continued. "But then you hear about all your friends being up in the mountain, it's a nice change. But definitely by the end of the winter, I'm over it and want to get on that skateboard and be in the sun."

Asked which sport he enjoyed more, White leaned more toward skateboarding. But he would focus only on skateboarding if it becomes an Olympic sport. If that happened, White said he would take a year off to focus on it entirely.

"It would definitely be one of the craziest things I've ever done," White said, sounding intrigued. "It would elevate my skating to another level because I'd never had that much time."

"It would have to be the point with snowboarding where I've done everything -- which is getting pretty close," he said with a laugh. "You have to be motivated to do something new. It's getting harder these days."

White's snowboarding accomplishments in the past year read like a novel. Some of the victories include championships at the Nippon Open halfpipe, the U.S. Open halfpipe, World Superpipe Championship, Burton U.S. Open halfpipe and Grand Prix halfpipe. He is a 21-time Winter X Games champion, including nine first-place finishes in X Games 10.

In White's mind, having to balance the two sports makes him excel because he must work even harder to perfect each in shorter amounts of time. White said he used to treasure boyhood trips to the slopes, where he would jam a week's worth of riding and learning tricks into two days.

"I would freak out when kids who lived there would say they got to snowboard every day," White said. "It blew my mind that they weren't really getting any better. As long as [my parents] kept it fun for me, I kept getting better and better."

Now that he's an adult, keeping his busy schedule entertaining is the challenge. White said the little things, like going to a restaurant or even to the lodge, are now a "gantlet" because of his fame. But he recently flew to Montreal to work on a snowboarding video game and is working with Target to develop his own "street gear" clothing line.

When he's at the X Games, White said he tries to avoid the bevy of parties. He can typically find a stage where he can pick up a guitar and enjoy his third hobby.

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