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Shaun White Biography: Olympic Snowboarder's Life and Career

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born September 3rd, 1986 in San Diego, California, Shaun White overcame health problems early to become an avid athlete in his youth. He finally settled on snowboarding, and quickly excelled past his older siblings and friends to be one of the sports fastest rising young stars. Pretty soon, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk took him under his wing, and White was skating and snowboarding professionally. A trip to the Olympics was finally in the cards for this phenom in 2006, where he took the gold and became the face of the U.S. Olympic Team. He repeated that accomplishment in 2010, but by then he was an old pro. In this video, learns more about the life and career of Shaun White.

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Biography of Shaun White

He’s “the Flying Tomato.” Welcome to, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Shaun White.

Early Life

Shaun Roger White was born September 3rd, 1986 in San Diego, California. As a child, he underwent two heart surgeries to correct a defect that caused un-oxygenated blood to pump through his veins.

Extreme Sports

After overcoming that obstacle, White threw himself into sports like surfing and skateboarding. Come wintertime, he and his siblings were skiing in the mountains.

A Natural Snowboarder

When White was six, his mother decided snowboarding was less dangerous than skiing. She also insisted he ride backwards so he'd be slower, but as it turned out, practicing switch this early helped him become more proficient later. White was a natural; but even so, he did suffer broken bones and a fractured skull.

First Sponsor

By age seven, White had his first sponsor, and was flying feet above his competition. What gave him his edge was his win-at-all-costs nature and ability to make the sport look effortless when the pressure was on.

Tony Hawk

Vert skateboarding legend Tony Hawk noticed this young phenom when he was nine, and touted him as one of snowboarding’s top prospects. Soon, White took his snowboard skills pro around the time it became an Olympic sport. He started skateboarding professionally at 17 with help from his mentor Hawk, and excelled thanks to his practice on the slopes.


Back in the snow, White competed with athletes much older than himself, and took part in his first X-Games in 2000. He then started prepping for his first Olympic showing; however, the buzz around him was not enough to carry him to Salt Lake City, and White failed to qualify for the 2002 U.S. Olympic team by three-tenths of a point.

Crossover Success

That defeat galvanized his resolve, and in 2003 he was named the X-Games' best athlete thanks to his impressive performances in the Slopestyle and SuperPipe events. White also became the first person to participate in both the summer and the winter X-Games that year, which cemented his status as an extreme sports star and a crossover success.


But, White was forced to slow down after sustaining a knee injury in 2004. Once he healed, he steered his focus towards snowboarding, and took cues from the rest of the community by training rigorously year-round.

First Gold Medal

White was ready for the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics after chalking up another Winter X-Games gold. He squeaked through to the Finals in the halfpipe event and used his last run to prove he was the true master of the 1080. This impressive sequence won him his first gold medal, and made him the face of the U.S. Olympic team.


Back home, White was a star: he traveled the talk show circuit, appeared on magazines and landed multiple endorsement deals. Pretty soon, a new generation of riders began competing against him, many of whom counted White as their inspiration.

Private Halfpipe

But he didn’t slow down: in 2008 he won his third U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships halfpipe and Slopestyle titles, among other accolades. White soon started training for his next Olympics on the 22-foot halfpipe sponsor Red Bull built for him, and it was there he conquered the insane back-to-back double cork.

Second Gold Medal

When the 2010 Vancouver Olympics rolled around, he was ready. In the Finals, he landed a Double McTwist 1260 for a score of 48.4 out of 50 to become the first man to win consecutive golds in the halfpipe.

Perfect X-Games Score

To prove he was still in top form, in 2012 he earned a perfect score in the X-Games' men’s SuperPipe, for his fifth consecutive win in that event.


Fans of White know his oddball personality, which shows up on the slopes and in interviews. He helped transform snowboarding from a fringe sport sponsors feared, to a wildly popular Olympic event. With his shocking red hair, quirky qualities and millions of dollars in endorsement deals, there’s no doubt Shaun White will remain king of the slopes and extreme sports for years.

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