Once famously dubbed the Flying Tomato, snowboard halfpiper Shaun White arrives in Beijing as the 35-year-old elder statesman of his youth-oriented sport. He claimed his first gold medal back in the 2006 winter games at Torino, his second by dominating the halfpipe in Vancouver in 2010, and then his most recent gold medal in 2018’s Pyeongchang games.
That win was historic in more ways than one, as White helped America to its 100th total gold in the Winter Olympics. He’d taken a lengthy hiatus this year before making the U.S. Grand Prix in March his first event since the 2018 Olympics.
White is now attempting to become the first snowboarder to claim four gold medals in the winter games, despite stiff competition from Ayumu Hirano, Scotty James and Yuto Totsuka. Still, the question of whether this is his final attempt to claim gold continued to loom. “Will this be my last games? I don’t know,” White said at a pre-Olympics news conference. “I always say it might be, just because that’s how it feels and then. … I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, I feel pretty good. I’m motivated, I’m excited.’ And then, boom, I’m at the next Olympics, so I wouldn’t count the next one out after this.”
White missed the X Games in January 2021 at Aspen after a knee injury but underscored his readiness to compete in this year’s Olympic Games during the U.S. Grand Prix, completing four spins plus two off-axis rotations. He then joined the rest of America’s snowboarding team in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, as training continued for these games. His stumble in 2014 at Sochi, where White somehow came away with no medals, is in the rear-view mirror. (He attempted to win two golds in Russia, training for both the halfpipe and the newly announced slopestyle event — then ended up with neither.)
In fact, White is already peeking ahead to the Winter Games in 2026 at Milano Cortina in Italy, where he’d be extending his incredible run at the sport’s oldest competitor. “I wear it now as somewhat of a badge of honor, in a sense,” White told Forbes. “To be on top of a sport that’s ever-changing for this amount of time has been a challenge. It’s been my life’s work.”