Shaun White is a national icon in America. He’s a legendary figure who has won two gold medals already for his work in the halfpipe during past Olympics, and he’s a an X Games demigod who’s been winning gold all the way back to the beginning of our current century.
Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. White, like all of us, has experienced tough times, during which he admits he’s gotten burned out.
As such, he very much relates to the all-time great Olympian, swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps has suffered through severe depression and thought about quitting more than once before giving it one more go ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I watched a Michael Phelps documentary, videos on him and him just going to the pool every single day, like that life I can imagine can get tough,” White said, per Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports. “Same for me [before Sochi]. The same things that got me excited and motivated weren’t really working anymore.”
White was absolutely unstoppable during the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games, dominating the halfpipe competition. Then he showed himself to be human after all in 2014, posting a fourth-place finish in Sochi. At that time many thought he’d call it quits, and White admits his heart wasn’t in it.
“At the time I was burning out. It’s hard to admit,” White said Thursday. “At the time my heart wasn’t in it. After that Olympics, the easy fix is if you weren’t strong enough, if you didn’t have the right tricks. But getting the mindset better is really hard. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like if you’ve ever been in a relationship and someone is like, they love you. I wish I could flip a switch and love you back … love snowboarding like I did when I was 7.”
Thankfully for all of us who love snowboarding, and who love to watch White dominate, his passion is back in a big way for his run in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
He’s hoping to pull off back-to-back 1440s during the halfpipe competition, which has never been done before, and is coming off a ridiculous run that garnered him a perfect score of 100 last month at the Olympic trials.
An enthusiastic Shaun White is the best Shaun White, and we can’t wait to see what he does this time around.