Three-time Olympic gold medal-winner Shaun White, whose dazzling feats on the half-pipe have made him a global snowboarding giant, is expected to make his final run for glory at the Beijing Winter Games.
When the 35-year-old California native, who burst onto the Olympic stage at the Turin Games in 2006, competes in China, he will be the oldest male halfpipe rider ever to participate in the Olympic competition.
White has been a fixture at the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 Games with his signature double corks and double McTwist moves.
Here is a timeline of a career that includes many triumphs and a few setbacks:
White’s first win came as a child. He was born with a heart defect that required two open-heart surgeries when he was an infant. He defeated the odds and by the age of 7 won his first snowboarding competition.
Not only was he good at snowboarding but he was just as good at skateboarding.
After becoming a professional skateboarder at 13, he made his Winter X Games debut and went on to win five slopestyle titles between 2003 and 2009.
White was the first athlete to compete in both the Winter and Summer X Games. He won gold medals in the vertical skateboarding event in 2007 and 2011.
At the age of 15, he missed the opportunity to qualify for the US team, falling 0.3 points short. However, White continued to dominate the professional circuit for two years, preparing for his next qualification opportunity. White went on to win the halfpipe competition in all five of the grand prix events that would qualify him for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics.
His athleticism and charming personality led to mainstream media exposure and endorsement deals. He even landed his own snowboarding video game and made cameos in Hollywood films like “Friends with Benefits” starring Justin Timberlake.
2006: The ‘Flying Tomato’
In 2006, at 19, White won his first Olympic gold medal at the Torino Games. With his amazing halfpipe performance and his bright red hair sweeping across the snow, White earned the nickname “The Flying Tomato.”
2010-2014: Gold, and disappointment
He went on to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics where he dominated the halfpipe competition securing another gold medal. Although he had already secured the win, he still performed his second run with a challenging double McTwist 1260, which he named “The Tomahawk.”
In 2014, White underperformed at the Winter Olympics and withdrew from the then-new slopestyle event. He said at the time that he did so due to poor course conditions. In halfpipe, as a two-time defending champion, he finished in fourth place. Afterward, White began training and preparing for the next Olympic season.
2017-2018: Bad accident, sexual harassment allegations
In October 2017, while training in New Zealand, White experienced a horrific crash.
As he was practicing a double flip 1440, he clipped the top of the halfpipe, catching the toe-edge of his board and landing in a face-plant. He received more than 60 stitches. But he recovered in time to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games and won a gold medal in the halfpipe. White became the first snowboarder to win three Olympic gold medals.
While at the Games, White came under fire in the wake of the “Me too movement” to refer to sexual misconduct allegations against him as “gossip” during a news conference, fresh from his winning performance. A woman, who was a member of a band White had formed, had accused him of sexual harassment and White settled a lawsuit with her in 2017.
“It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today,” White told NBC’s “Today” show at the time.
In the 2022 Olympic winter season, White will compete in his fifth Olympics, participating in the snowboarding halfpipe. The US Ski and Snowboard named him to its roster for Beijing 2022 on Jan. 21. Although he pulled out of an event in Mammoth Mountain, the final home qualifier to make Team USA, following a bout with COVID-19, he made it to Europe to compete in Laax, Switzerland. A third-place finish clinched his spot on the US team.
He will be the oldest Olympic snowboarder to participate.
ABC News’ Mark Osborne and Matt Gutman contributed to this report.
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