Ceremonial Figure Shaun White Retires after Beijing Olympics


I remember very vividly the day Michael Jordan retired from the sport of basketball, twice. Over the years, many athletes have been compared to Michael Jordan in their respective sports. Opinions may differ sport to sport, but some top names include Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps, and… Shaun White.

Shaun White is the most decorated gold medal Olympian in the sport of Snowboarding. He also holds the record for most Winter X-Games gold medals, as well as 10 ESPY awards. I think it’s safe to say, Shaun White is the Michael Jordan of snowboarding.

The 35-year old athlete realized retirement was closer than he thought last November when he was in Austria. Watching the young athletes pull off new tricks that his “old” body couldn’t fathom anymore was the moment he knew that his competition expiration date was near.

Shaun White entered the Olympic scene in 2006 in Italy. The 20-year-old from San Diego, California was no stranger to the spotlight at this point in his life. Having been mentored by pro skater Tony Hawk from the age of 9, Shaun White turned professional at the age of 16 years old. The 2006 Olympics proved to be a challenge when White was almost eliminated from the competition after his 1st run. He came out on top winning his first gold medal. The world officially knew his name. White claimed Olympic gold in the 2010 and 2018 Games as well.

Age is typically not on an athlete’s side when it comes to competition. A fresh body can usually perform very well. However, there’s a fine line between experience superseding a young athlete. And in the sport of snowboarding, you have to be willing to put your body through quite the gambit if you want to succeed year after year. Shaun White has well exceeded that expectation in his time as an athlete. A horrific accident in preparation for the 2018 Olympics landed White in emergency surgery on his face after slamming into the rim of a pipe. Recovering from not only competition, but injury, has taken its toll on him over the years.

It takes a strong athlete to know when it’s their time to hang their hat. When you career collides with your passion that also supplies you with a paycheck, it’s a decision I can’t even imagine making.  It goes without saying, Shaun White will be missed in the extreme winter sports world. As someone who has never touched a winter sport in their life, I can safely say that I’ll be sad to watch him go. He’s proven multiple times that with a lot of hard work and some grit, you can get what you want out of this life.

If you’re interested in watching him perform in his final Olympics (and competition) you can watch his Half Pipe qualifying round at 12:35am Wednesday morning. It will also be aired on Prime-Time television on Wednesday evening (February 9th). The finals will air on Thursday, February 10th.


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