(NEW YORK) — As Shaun White gears up to go for his fourth and final gold in Beijing, the Olympic halfpipe snowboarder said his training has become “more calculated” and that he’s got “some new moves” to debut in February.
“I’m so honored to make the team; it is just incredible and I get to be an Olympian again. Get to run out of the tunnel with Team USA, it’s just so exciting,” White told Good Morning America on Thursday. “To be atop a sport like this for this long, I feel so honored to be doing that. And it’s so wild because when I look around, everybody in the area are all people I used to compete with, you know, they’re coaches now.”
Ahead of the February opening ceremonies, White recently announced this will be his final Olympics, which he confirmed on GMA, saying, “I’ve got this last dance sort of glow to it.”
“You know, you look for those little signs and I was having a little knee injury here, a little ankle injury there, just these little things. And I remember my back hurting one day and my buddies were like, ‘what happened? And I was like, ‘Nothing, it just hurts,” he laughed.
The winter Games will look different for all the athletes this year as the International Olympic Committee takes precautions to safely allow competition, without fans.
“I’ll never forget winning and sliding down and seeing my whole family and they’re just crying and tears of joy — the whole crowd and that feeling you get, so it’s going to be different. But honestly, I salute them for putting this on in such a challenging time,” White said. “We’ve been trying to keep in our little bubble, so select friends and family, a physical therapist I have with me … Everybody’s testing and doing the best they can and I think that’s all you can really do.”
Since notching his first Olympic gold in 2006 when he was 19, White said he prepares at a different pace now.
“I had longer hair back then, so it’s a little easier routine these days,” he joked. “I think every single time I go to the Olympics, it’s just a different process.”
“I always think, ‘What got me to this point in my career won’t necessarily take me the rest of the way.’ So not only have I been focusing a lot on my physical health, but just like the mental health of it all,” White, 35, said. “Staying positive and staying motivated.”
The training has become “more calculated practice sessions,” and he explained that “it’s more like a power window than I used to be up there all day long — I don’t have that much energy as I used to. I’m not an old guy by any means — but at the last competition, one of my competitors was like 15, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ So I’m definitely like pacing it out a bit more and take a lot more time to recover.”
At his last appearance in PyeongChang, White stunned fans and judges with back-to-back 1440s and ended the run with a frontside double cork 1260 to grab gold.
“There’s talk of triple corks now, these triple flips that are happening. A lot of the Japanese riders have been attempting those. There’s talks of doing a 16, which is 180 [degrees] past the 1440. But it’s gonna be incredible. I don’t want to give anything away, but working on some new moves and I’m hoping that everything really peaks once I get to the competition.”
Outside of the Olympics, White started a snowboarding and activewear company with his brother called Whitespace.
“It’s so much fun. You know, all my experience over the course of my career — I get to put that into a new product and a new brand and all my focus and attention and it’s been such a rewarding thing to work on with family,” he said. “I was 7 when I first got a snowboard from Jake Burton, who unfortunately passed away recently, but, you know, he gave me that start and I keep thinking — ‘Wow, if I could be that for the next generation,’ some young boy or girl or whoever is starting up and has that spark and excitement for the sport and I could be there to support it with my wisdom and experiences.”
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