Snowboard superstar Shaun White, on qualifying cusp, confirms Beijing 2022 would be his last Olympics

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Shaun White announced on Thursday (13 January) that, should he qualify for Beijing 2022, the Games would be the 35-year-old American's last Winter Games as he looks ahead to retirement.

By Jonah Fontela

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Shaun White has confirmed that he plans to retire from the snowboard halfpipe following what would be his final Winter Olympic Games this February in Beijing.

“Oh, for sure. Yeah,” the 35-year-old White said in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine from Laax, Switzerland, where he’s taking part in a final pre-Beijing halfpipe World Cup event in hopes of securing his place in Team USA for the upcoming Olympics.

“Through this journey, I’ve realised, 'Wow, certain things just aren’t there that used to be there.' It takes me longer to practise; it’s harder," he added. "It’s these little signs that have been coming to me. And it finally hit me one day: I was in Austria training a couple months ago, and I was just like, “You know what? This is it.”

Rough stretch on pipe return

White has had a rough stretch since returning to the halfpipe after a three-year hiatus after winning his third Olympic gold-medal in PyeongChang 2018. Currently ranked outside the world top-ten and fourth among American men, he finished fourth in Aspen at a Grand Prix event, eighth in December in Copper Mountain, Colorado and seventh at the most recent Dew Tour stop (also in Copper Mountain).

Shaun White
Picture by Getty Images

Then, after revealing to Olympics.com that he contracted Covid-19, he wasn’t able to compete in the finals of the recent U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth Mountain, California due to a hard landing and a resulting injured ankle in the qualifiers.

“I knew this moment would come, and it was just so wild that that moment had arrived…” added White, inventor of the double cork, who’s now facing competitors, like Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who unleashed the first-ever triple cork in official competition on Copper Mountain in Colorado in a recent Dew Tour stop.

Bright future for White

“No one’s gonna tell me what to do next,” he added. “This amazing wave of freedom started hitting me pretty hard, and it just felt incredible. So I feel like I’m making the right decision, and it wasn’t something taken lightly. But, yeah, definitely, I’m done after this one.”

The first order of business for White in making the Beijing Games his last Olympics is making the U.S. Team. He’s yet to reach the official qualifying criteria and is taking part in one last-chance qualifier in Switzerland to seal his place before the full U.S. team roster is announced on 21 January.

“…And that’s why I flew all the way to Switzerland,” added White when asked about his status ahead of the Games, which begin on 4 February. “You know, they have a discretionary spot so they can kinda pick people for the team. And I don’t know the full process, but – I didn’t want to leave it up to a vote, so I’m out here trying to get it done.”

White, having qualified for the finals in Laax ahead of fellow American Chase Blackwell, can no longer fall lower than fourth place among American men's halfpipe riders. That makes him a good bet for the fourth spot in Team USA for Beijing ahead of the final announcement.

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