Snowboarding legend Shaun White talks Olympics in China, skateboarding, and inspiration from girlfriend Nina Dobrev

Shaun White is aiming for his fifth Olympics as a snowboarder, representing the USA in half-pipe.

3 min By Ed Knowles
(Picture by 2021 Getty Images)

At the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Shaun White could be the United States’ oldest Olympic snowboarding half-pipe competitor of all-time. Aged 35, he would drop in for the fifth time as an Olympian - if he qualifies.

On the snow, White’s achievements have been extraordinary. He’s a three-time Olympic gold medallist. But the motivation to stay at the top remains.

“Will this be my last Games? I don't know,” White said at a news conference.

“I always say it might be just because that's how it feels and then… I'm thinking, ‘Gosh, I feel pretty good. I'm motivated, I'm excited.’

“And then, boom, I'm at the next Olympics, so I wouldn't count the next one out after this.”

Snowboarding: Is Shaun White retired?

Shaun White has been competing since he was a teenager. But his commitment to snowboarding has seen him repeatedly return to the Olympics.

After disappointment at Sochi 2014, where he didn’t come back with any medals, he secured an emotional third gold at PyeongChang 2018

"I think the last Olympic run was mental for me, it was really mental because in the previous Olympics in Sochi, I had lost [an] edge that I had… I think it was really emotional and heavy sort of journey to find that again. And I was so proud of that performance, and since then I've been able to continue with that mindset.

After a knee injury kept him out of the X Games in Aspen earlier in 2021, White is realistic about what he can expect from his body,

“The body is definitely giving me little signs here and there that the age is a factor at times. And, I'll do probably less training days than the others…

“I took a really bad crash a couple of days ago, and I remember I [used to] bounce back up and feel great… But now I might need a couple more days rest before I get back out there.”

Shaun White on stillness and the pandemic

Shaun White and his girlfriend Nina Dobrev publicly announced they were dating early in 2020. They spent a lot of time together when the pandemic first started. The period kickstarted some introspection on his life.

“When you're pulled and forced out of that churn of the daily, obligations and plans… you're stuck with this stillness. And, gosh, I really appreciated that lesson.

“Social media is pretty brutal because you get this revolving window of what all your friends and family [are] doing in their daily lives. And it's hard to see this revolving window of life somewhat passing you by when you're in a mode of training and you don't want that distraction.”

Shaun White and girlfriend Nina Dobrev go snowboarding

White also spent time getting to know his ‘inspirational’ new girlfriend. Nina Dobrev is an actress best known for her role in the series ‘Vampire Diaries’.

“Nina's incredible. What an influence on my life!" he continued.

“I guess with age and time and the recent events in the world, it just means so much to me. So having [family and friend] support and knowing that they're there for me… win, lose or draw is everything.”

Shaun White: ‘Snowboarding is my life’s work’

It’s one more opportunity for Shaun White. He may still be competing at Milano Cortina 2026 but the Olympics in China remains the target for now.

“It's been my life's work. And I'm so proud that I'm still able to compete on a high level and I'm going to I'm going to give it everything I have for this Games, like I do every time, and see where the chips fall.”

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