18 things you probably didn’t know about pro snowboarder Shaun White

Medal Ceremony - Winter Olympics Day 5
Getty Images | Quinn Rooney

Shaun White needs no introduction: From being nicknamed “The Flying Tomato” (for his red hair) to becoming a three-time Olympic gold medalist, he has been the snowboarder to watch for the last two decades. He’s broken boundaries and pushed the sport to new heights, challenging generations of competitors and introducing the world of snowboarding to a wide audience.

A global phenomenon, White is recognized well beyond the world of snowboarding. Still, there is much more that you may not know about the pipe pioneer.

shaun white pyeongchang photo
Getty Images | Cameron Spencer

1. He’s Named After A Surfer

White’s parents named him after professional surfer Shaun Tomson, and held hopes he’d follow in his namesake’s career path. He tried surfing, but after a wipe-out turned to snowboarding.

2. He Used To Sleep In A Van So He Could Snowboard More Often

When he first started snowboarding, White took family trips with his parents and two siblings to the San Bernadino Mountains, and they all camped out in a van to save money. He grew up riding Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, and now he owns a minority stake in those very same resorts.

3. Red Bull Built Him A Private Superpipe

During the winter of 2009, he trained with his own personal halfpipe. Red Bull built White a private superpipe in a back bowl on Silverton Mountain in Colorado for an estimated $500,000. The massive 22-foot pipe featured a foam pit so White could refine his Double McTwist 1260 away from prying eyes.

4. He Played Guitar At Lollapalooza

He played guitar at Lollapalooza in Chicago with the synth-rock band Bad Things. His music career all started when he won a Fender Stratocaster, a bright yellow guitar, in a snowboarding contest and saw it as an opportunity to learn how to play.

5. He’s Co-Owner Of A Snowboarding Festival

White is a majority shareholder in Air + Style, which is an international snowboarding, skateboarding and music festival.


6. He Did Those Back-To-Back 1440s For The First Time in Pyeongchang

He landed massive back-to-back 1440s for the first time in his gold-medal winning run in PyeongChang. He had practiced the tricks separately before, but had never done the dizzying combination because it was simply too dangerous to risk during training.

7. He Started Snowboarding At Age 6

White started skateboarding first and added snowboarding at age 6. By age 7, he scored his first sponsorship deal and legend Tony Hawk took notice of the prodigy in the skatepark.

8. He’s Loyal To Burton Snowboards

White scored a deal with Burton and still rides a Burton board today. He won gold riding a 2019 Custom with Cartel Bindings and Rampant Boots, all by Burton. He was so excited after his first run, he tossed his Anon Helo 2.0 Helmet and Anon M3 Goggle into the crowd and had to get them back.


9. His Trademark Trick Is The Sky-Hook

For the last decade, one of White’s trademark tricks has been the so-called sky-hook. With a stalefish grab on the board, he tweaks toward his backside creating the shape of a comma and rotates 540 degrees. He included it in his Olympic runs on the way to gold.


10. He Was Born With A Heart Defect

White was born with a congenital heart defect and required two major surgeries before his first birthday. As a result of his experience, he has granted 17 wishes with the Make-A-Wish Foundation since 2008.

11. His Mom Started Shaun White Enterprises

Shaun White Enterprises, a company originally established by his mother to get health insurance for him, now brings all his entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures together. He works closely with organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club and Target House.

12. He Worked With A Physical Therapist And Trainer After Sochi

After his disappointing fourth-place finish in Sochi, White started working with a physical therapist and a trainer, Tim Hartwig. For the first time in his career, he put in real time in the gym, which helped improve his landings and amplitude.


13. He’s Won A LOT Of Medals

White’s trophy case is overflowing. In addition to a trio of Olympic gold medals, he boasts 18 X Games medals in snowboarding, 10 ESPY awards and 10 U.S. Open medals. He became the most decorated snowboarder in history, all before 21—and a whole decade later he’s still golden.


14. He Dabbles In Fashion Design

His entrepreneurial ventures started early. He launched a boys clothing line at Target at age 14. Then, he collaborated with Oakley and Burton on branded products. He still designs clothing for his men’s line, WHT Space.


15. He’s Worth Millions

He is one of the richest winter Olympians. Money magazine estimated his net worth between $20 and $40 million. The big range accounts for a variety of real estate investments.

16. His Latest Win Made History

His comeback PyeongChang gold medal was historic on multiple levels. White became the first-ever snowboarder to win three gold medals. The medal also marks Team U.S.A.’s 100th gold.


17. He’s A City Boy

Unlike most top snowboarders, White doesn’t live in the mountains. He calls Los Angeles home and says the time away from the sport is refreshing. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.


18. You Can Soon Read His Journals

His memoir coming out later this year features White’s journal entries, original art and photographs. It will come out as an audible book first. Even the most avid fan will learn something new.

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About the Author
Jennifer Nied
Jennifer Nied is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She focuses on beauty, wellness, and travel stories with a background covering the spa industry.

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