U.S. snowboarding star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, shown at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, also holds the world record for the most X Games gold medals. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 5 (UPI) — American snowboarding star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White confirmed Saturday that he will retire after the Beijing Games.
The 35-year-old White captured his first halfpipe gold at the 2006 Games in Turin. He also won gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010 and Pyeongchang 2018.
“This has all had its amazing glow as I’ve decided this will be my last Olympics,” said White, who is competing in his fifth Games for Team USA. “I’ve given it my all, there have been some ups and downs on the way to get here. And with that, I feel I’ve got stronger and better.
“I’m just so excited about everything. Opening ceremony was incredible. The venue looks incredible. I’m just enjoying every single moment.”
White, nicknamed the “Flying Tomato,” noted that the Beijing Games likely will be his final competition as he typically takes the season off after an Olympic event. In addition to his three gold medals, the American snowboarder has won a remarkable 18 individual Winter X Games medals.
“After the Olympics I don’t compete much after the Games as there’s so much pressure weighing on you and that relief is warranted,” White said. “I usually take the season off to get excited again, but this will be my last competition.”
White pointed to ankle, knee and back issues as “little signs” that led to his retirement conclusion at the end of last year.
“They were taking away from days in practice, and I was watching the tricks getting heavier and heavier,” he said of his injuries. “I was riding down from the halfpipe in Austria, and I got lost, and I had to take this chair back up.
“And on that chairlift ride, the mountain was closing and I was on my own and I was watching the sun go down, and it hit me: this is it. It was a surreal moment, but very joyous as I watched the sun go down and reflected.”
White will begin his practice session Sunday in Beijing ahead of competing in the halfpipe where qualification starts Wednesday.
Torchbearers Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Jiawen Zhao, athletes of China, light the Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Cross-country skier Yilamujiang, 20, who was born in Xinjiang Province, is of Uighur heritage, China said. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI | License Photo