At a press conference in Zhangjiakou, Professional skate and snowboarder Shaun White, 35 has announced this will be his last Olympics. A litany of injuries over time contributed to this decision.
“I was in Austria. The pipe wasn’t in the best conditions. I had this ankle issue which prevented me from competing further at the Mammoth qualification,” White said. “I had this knee issue from where I had surgery in the summer before, and I injured my back working out randomly.”
He came to this realization last fall in Austria as he watched other snowboarders pull off tricks he could no longer do due to a sore knee, sore ankle, and a bad back.
“It was a sad and surreal sort of moment,” White recalled Saturday. “But also kind of joyous, as well. I kind of reflected on things I’ve done and looked at the sun going down and went, ‘Wow, next time I’m here, I won’t be stressed about learning tricks or worried about some competition thing.”
It’s not just his injuries, but the mounting pressure of competition is becoming difficult to deal with.
“[…] It’s just so much to get here, so much pressure, so much weighing on you that relief is so wanted and needed and then I usually take the season after the Olympics off to just refocus and get excited about things again. … But yeah, I think this will be my last— well, it will be my last competition, which is pretty special, too.”
Before retiring, he’s got time to try to win one last medal as he has a week of practice before starting competition next Friday.
“I have some runs in my head that I’d like to do, and it’s all about visualizing and then making it happen day-of,” he said. “I have an idea in my head of what I can put down, and as long as I can put that down, I’m happy.”