Shaun White says the Beijing Olympics will be the final competition

The Flying Tomato wants this to be its last takeoff.

Three-time snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White made it clear on Saturday that the Beijing Games would not just be his last Olympics, the 35-year-old American plans to retire from the sport he put on the international map after the halfpipe medal round. the week.

“In my mind, I’ve decided this will be my last competition,” he said.

White is a transcendent force for snowboarding, its most recognizable face in nearly two decades – and not just because of the mop of red hair that inspired its nickname.

Those locks have since been cut, and White is now a veteran sports statesman, hobbling into his fifth Olympics after a season marred by an ankle injury, a bout with COVID-19, an unplanned late trip to Switzerland. to secure his Olympic spot and, most recently, a training plan that was scrapped while in Colorado in January.

“I kind of pinch myself, being lucky to still be here at that age,” he said in a thoughtful 45-minute press conference.

White won gold in her Olympic debut in 2006, only the third time halfpipe snowboarding has taken place at the Winter Games. The sport exploded in popularity with him at the forefront, and he won gold again in 2010 and 2018. He also has 15 X-Games gold medals – 13 in snowboarding and two in skateboarding.

White will hardly be a favorite for a fourth halfpipe gold medal when the finals take place on Friday. Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who finished second to White in 2018, became the first to land a triple cork in competition in December, and the three-flip trick is unlikely to be in White’s race.

White said he was swinging between trying to enjoy every moment of the last great competitive week of his life and knowing there was work to be done when the halfpipe opens for practice on Sunday.

He said he decided he was ready to get it over with during the build-up to the Beijing Games, a moment that crystallized when he got lost on a mountain during a hard training stoppage in Austria in November.

“A sad and surreal moment,” he said. “But happy too. I kind of thought about things that I’ve done and watched the sun go down and I was like, ‘Wow, next time I’m here I won’t be stressed learning stuff or worrying about something in competition.”

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