Winter Olympics: 'My legacy? You're watching it' – Shaun White bows out in Beijing

By Sports Desk February 11, 2022 965

Shaun White paid tribute to the new generation of snowboarding stars – those he considers his "legacy" in the sport – after his final run at the Winter Olympics.

The American great finished in fourth place in the men's halfpipe final on Friday after falling on his third run at Genting Snow Park.

It was the last competition at the Games for White, a pioneering figure in the sport for more than 15 years who helped to bring snowboarding into the mainstream.

A five-time Olympian, White won three gold medals in the halfpipe, but he could not match Ayumu Hirano on Friday as the Japanese finally won gold after silvers in 2014 and 2018.

Now 35, White holds the record for X-Games gold medals and golds won by a snowboarder at the Olympics. He never finished lower than fourth at the Games.

Speaking after the competition, White said problems with his leg caught up with him as he tried for a final push for a medal, but he could not be prouder than to see the standard of competition he helped to inspire.

"Over the last few months, it's been wild," White said. "Pushing to give it everything I have, but then realising I am human. I've spent an entire career not being human and doing what people thought was impossible. And then to have my ankle go and then my knee, and I had surgery before the season started.

"All these things wearing and tearing, so to put it down and to even get here, I was so thrilled. What a time of my life to be with those competitors and feel the joy of winning and riding.

"The thought I keep having is, 'Wow, this is the last time I'll be here doing this specific thing. This is the last time I'll be at a competition, stressed out about what points I'm going to get, or is today the day I might really hurt myself trying to push the envelope', you know? It's hard to wake up every day since you were a kid and go, 'Wow, I'm going to do something really scary today and hope I'm okay'.

"Honestly, I keep saying, if I got third, I would have wanted second. And if I had gotten second, I would have wanted more. This is just the competitor in me, but I am happy. I am happy to come back here and ride the pipe and have some fun and be a part of this sport. I think I've earned that.

"I knew my leg wasn't holding, but I knew I had to do something to push the score up. I hadn't landed one of those in practice and thought maybe – hey, I'm pretty lucky – maybe I'll hit it during the run and put it together. I barely made the first one, and so I knew going into that one it was all willpower to make it happen.

"You know, sliding on my back, thinking, 'This isn't how I wanted it to go'. You don't always get what you want, but I have to be thankful for everything I do have and what I have gotten in my career. I've got to be happy for these guys."

Asked about the current state of snowboarding, White added: "Oh my god. It makes me proud. It makes me pretty emotional, you know.

"Everybody was asking me what my legacy in this sport has been, and, I'm like, 'You're watching it'. These younger riders, they have been on my heels every step of the way. To see them finally surpass me is, I think, deep down what I always wanted, you know – to be beaten!"

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Last modified on Friday, 11 February 2022 08:57
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