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All-Around Extreme Sports Titan: Shaun White

When one thinks about the quintessential extreme sports athlete, the name Shaun White has certainly become synonymous with greatness across multiple sports. While there are many impressive extreme sports athletes, there are virtually none who have achieved even close to what Shaun has. As an elite athlete in both snowboarding, and skateboarding, Shaun has made his mark in multiple sports, and even in popular media. With gold medals in multiple Olympic competitions, gold medals in X Games Men’s Snowboarding, and gold medals in X Games Men’s Skateboarding, it is difficult to find an athlete who can even come close to White’s medal count.

Born and raised in Southern California, Shaun White was lucky enough to have access to exceptional facilities in both skateboarding and snowboarding. The unique positioning of San Diego, White’s hometown, allowed for proximity to a high quality ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains known as Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain was one of the primary snowboarding locations that Shaun White was able to hone his skills at, and Bear was a fantastic resort for his purposes since it has such world class terrain park and pipe features. While having access to Bear Mountain for developing his snowboarding skills, and all of the best skateboarding facilities in Southern California, Shaun White was perfectly positioned as a young kid to develop his extreme sports skills and become a great athlete.

While Shaun White is perhaps better known for his Men’s Snowboarding accomplishments, he actually got a lot of his initial fame and notoriety from his skateboarding prowess. At only nine years old, Shaun White was noticed by skateboarding veteran Tony Hawk at a public skate park, and the veteran Hawk decided to take the young Shaun White under his wing and help mentor him in his pursuit of skateboarding greatness. It would have been difficult if not impossible for White to have found a better mentor anywhere in the world; and it leads one to consider if perhaps fate does actually exist sometimes.

It is very easy to see that this fateful crossing of paths between Tony Hawk and Shaun White was a very important event in Shaun White’s meteoric ascent into professional extreme sports, since only eight years after they met and started training together, Shaun went pro in skateboarding at only 17 years old. Just as Tony Hawk mentored a young Shaun White on the skateboard, Shaun’s older brother helped him along into snowboarding as a very young child.

At only six years old, Shaun White transitioned from skiing into snowboarding. He did so mostly motivated by the desire to follow in this elder brother’s footsteps, and that was another critical decision on Shaun’s pathway into elite snowboarding. White transitioned from skiing to snowboarding at only age six, and only one year later at age seven Shaun received his first-ever snowboarding sponsorship. Anyone who is interested in professional skateboarding and snowboarding likely already knows the name Shaun White, but for those who wish to learn a bit more about this legend, some more interesting history and facts about his life will now be discussed here.

Shaun White’s Professional Snowboarding Career Highlights:

Shaun has participated in multiple Olympic games, one in 2006 at Turin, Italy and one in 2010 at Vancouver, British Columbia. At both of these winter Olympic games, Shaun managed to secure gold medals in snowboarding. Both of his gold medals, from both 2006 and 2010, were both taken in the half-pipe category of competition. Shaun White focuses very heavily on half-pipe riding in his snowboarding career, and this is where he has taken almost all of his medals. While he does focus on the Superpipe, his other focus is on Slopestyle riding and he has taken a lot of medals in that category as well. While Shaun did win multiple gold medals in the Olympics, the majority of his gold medals were won in the Winter X Games competitions over the years.

Beginning with the 2003 X Games in Aspen, Colorado, Shaun managed to bring home two gold medals in this competition. Setting the standard for being a diversely skilled rider, Shaun earned a gold in both Slopestyle and Superpipe. At the time it was already becoming clear that White was going to be a massive contender in professional snowboarding, and he backed that up again next year at the 2004 Aspen Winter X Games. In ’04, Shaun still won a gold medal though this time only in Slopestyle and not in the half-pipe. While Slopestyle riding has always been an important focus for Shaun, it is arguable that Superpipe is more important to him in his career than Slopestyle is. For this reason, it was sort of a bittersweet victory for him at the 2005 Winter X Games when he, again, only won a medal for Slopestyle riding. In 2006, he turned that trend around when at the Aspen ’06 Winter X Games he managed to take home another two gold medals in both Superpipe and Slopestyle.

This was a reassuring year for Shaun White, since he took home another gold medal in Superpipe, which is where he especially loves to excel. 2007 would prove to be a fairly disappointing year for Shaun White, only relatively speaking, since in ’07 he only won a bronze and a silver medal in both Slopestyle, and Superpipe, respectively. Next year in 2008, Shaun managed to improve on his 2007 performances, though he still brought in a bronze medal in Slopestyle. His redeeming performance at the 2008 Winter X Games in Aspen was primarily in his Superpipe performance, where he was able to secure yet another gold medal.


The 2009 Aspen Winter X Games was another massive year of competition for Shaun White, since it was another X Games that saw multiple gold medal wins by Shaun. To his happiness, he managed to earn gold medals in both Superpipe and Slopestyle in 2009, and this was probably one of his best Winter X Games performances of his entire career. From 2010 through 2013, Shaun strengthened his Superpipe skills tremendously, winning a Superpipe gold medal each year.

Shaun White’s Professional Skateboarding Career Highlights:

While in skateboarding there is less ability for Shaun to showcase his skills (no Olympic skateboarding competition), he has still been able to cement himself into the ranks of all-time greatest skateboarders by competing in the X Games. Shaun’s first Men’s Skateboarding X Games performance was in 2005, and even though it was his first skateboarding X Games he was still victorious in securing a gold medal accolade. He would return to the Men’s Skateboarding X Games in 2007 with a new level of determination, winning a gold medal in vert skateboarding.

This was a massive year for Shaun’s professional skateboarding career, as 2007 was one of the only two times that Shaun ever won a gold medal for skateboarding. In 2008 Shaun won a bronze medal in vert skateboarding again, and in 2010 he earned a silver medal in vert again. 2011 was another landmark year for Shaun’s skateboarding career, as he earned yet another gold medal at the vert event in the Men’s Skateboarding X Games competition.

Shaun’s Sponsorships and Endorsements:

With regard to Shaun White’s array of major endorsements and sponsorships, he has some that are centered on snowboarding and some that are centered on his skateboarding career. While some sponsors are companies that are specific to one sport, some of his sponsors are more general companies that cater to many different extreme sports niches.

Some of Shaun White’s snowboarding centered sponsorships include Park City Mountain Resort, Burton Snowboards, Shaun White Snowboarding (video game), and more. With regard to his snowboarding and skateboarding sponsorships, there are a relatively equal number of endorsements on either side.

Big skateboarding sponsorships for Shaun White’s career include Birdhouse Skateboards, and other smaller companies. Birdhouse Skateboards is a massively successful skateboard company, so it is easy to see how they are Shaun’s biggest skateboarding endorsement by far. This Birdhouse sponsorship is easy to understand since it is Tony Hawk’s company, and Tony was an integrally important mentor and trainer for Shaun White.

Other, more miscellaneous sponsorships for Shaun White’s career include Red Bull, Oakley, Target Corporation, Ubisoft, Hewlett-Packard, and more. All of these companies have successfully capitalized on the incredible talent of Shaun White. It is easy to see how Shaun White is one of the major titans of extreme sports, and his life is more or less a blueprint on the rise and success of a true extreme sports superstar.

 

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