American snowboarder Shaun White has announced his retirement after the Beijing Games, turning an illustrious career upside down.
The 35-year-old has won three halfpipe Olympic gold medals since his debut at the 2006 Games in Turin, and added 13 titles at the Winter X Games to become one of the sport’s most iconic figures.
“It will be my last game, which is quite special,” White told media outlets in China’s Zhangjiakou on Saturday.
“Everything has an extra thrill. Last time I do this [pre-race press conference]the last time I sat with you [his USA teammates]the final opening ceremony, all these things.
“So it’s beautiful, pretty heavy, but I enjoy it.”
White took gold in his first Games in Italy before adding his second in Vancouver four years later.
A nasty training crash in 2017 – which left White in need of 62 stitches – seemed to have jeopardized the American’s hopes at the PyeongChang Games in 2018, but he recovered quickly and won his third gold with the “performance of his life” just four months later.
In doing so, he avenged the pain of narrowly missing a medal in Sochi four years earlier.
As he prepares to compete in his fifth and final Games, White reflected on his journey, an “incredible” opening ceremony, and his legacy.
“I gave it my all. There have been ups and downs to get here, but through it all, I’ve gotten stronger and better all the way and I’m excited to be here,” White said.
“The opening ceremony and venue were incredible. In terms of legacy I’ve done so much in the sport – I hope my riding style appeals to that. I always try to ride and progress and pick up trends in the sport and stay ahead of the competition .”
White will start training on Sunday and the American shared his excitement at the prospect of competing in the “beautiful” Genting Snow Park.
While competitive retirement beckons, White doesn’t believe he’ll be leaving the sport “soon.”
“I think the great thing about snowboarding is that there’s still a life to be had beyond the sport out of competition with so many names that you know you don’t see in the spotlight,” White said.
“All these people in an industry that rides backcountry and pipes. I’m just too excited for the next chapter.”