White is ready for things to ‘get weird’WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Olympics conquered once again, Shaun White says he’s ready for things to “get weird.” And it’s already starting.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Olympics conquered once again, Shaun White says he’s ready for things to “get weird.” And it’s already starting.
An hour after the snowboarding superstar provided one of Vancouver’s signature moments by landing his Double McTwist 1260 during a celebratory run down the halfpipe, a reporter asked White if he had designs on the movies.
“Only action-packed ones,” he said with a laugh while raising his slight arms in the air. “Slo-mo running. Flying off buildings.”
Hey, he’s had plenty of practice.
There are no plans to go Hollywood. At least not yet. His goals in the near future are considerably more grounded: Sleep. A little surfing. Some skateboarding. Maybe hang with the president.
“I’m free for dinner,” White said.
Considering White’s celebrity — ratings for his gold-medal run on NBC eclipsed Fox juggernaut “American Idol” — President Barack Obama might want to find a hole in his schedule.
Four years ago, White was a fresh-faced 19-year-old who was known as much for his red locks and his hipster nickname, “The Flying Tomato,” as for his ability on the halfpipe.
Gold in Turin made him an instant celebrity. He’s spent the interim becoming his sport’s first true crossover star, complete with a video game, clothing line and million-dollar smile that Madison Avenue covets.
That sun-splashed day in Italy seems like a lifetime ago. The sport has changed since then. He has, too.
The decision to raise the height of the halfpipe from 17 to 22 feet in 2008 offered riders a new canvas on which to paint their gravity-defying tricks. And staying at the sport’s forefront has sometimes come at a price.
Kevin Pearce, a friend of White’s and another star in the sport, was seriously injured on New Year’s Eve while practicing a difficult double cork — a trick that sends riders hips over helmet twice.
White has spent a year working on his own take of the double cork — the Double McTwist, also known as the Tomahawk, in which he packs two flips inside 3½ twists.
Perfecting the risky maneuver has been painful. He injured his ankle while taking the first tentative steps toward it last summer, and did a horrific face-plant while trying to throw it down at the X Games last month.
Hours later he popped back up and nailed it to win gold. It’s what he does.
“I think what separates Shaun from the majority of the snowboarders is his focus and his motivation,” said bronze medal winner and teammate Scotty Lago. “He’s a perfectionist, and that’s what makes him one of the best.”
One of the best showmen too. Standing atop the pipe at Cypress Mountain on Wednesday night, gold medal already in hand, White could have opted to play it safe.
That’s just not him. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he put together one last electrifying routine, nailing the Tomahawk — barely — at the end as flashbulbs popped and Guns N Roses blasted over the speakers.
Paradise City indeed.
How can he possibly top it? Even he’s not sure.
“I’m sure that we’ve hit this spike and we’ll now kind of mellow out,” White said. “I’m hoping. I’m not planning on pushing it too hard. I just pushed myself to the furthest and I deserve a break I think.”
Not quite yet, though.
After doing the media rounds Thursday morning, White planned to watch the U.S. women’s halfpipe team compete, part of an effort by the admitted loner to embrace being on a team.
It’s an experience he said he enjoyed four years ago. He was fibbing.
“I didn’t feel the whole team vibe,” White said. “I would say in interviews that I felt like being a part of the team and the whole deal and I didn’t feel that way until this time around.”
He’s got the video to prove it.
White recorded the halfpipe team going crazy after snowboardcross teammate Seth Wescott won his second gold medal with an electrifying comeback in the finals.
He put his arms around fellow halfpipers Lago, Louie Vito and Greg Bretz during the opening ceremony, pointed to the crowd and asked “this isn’t like X Games in the slightest, is it?”
Maybe it says something about how much White has bought into the team concept that he seemed as happy about Lago — a longtime rival — hitting the podium as he was about collecting his second gold.
White joked about carrying Lago through the streets of Vancouver in celebration on Wednesday night, and while he’s eager for the vacation he’s put off while training for the Olympics, he has no plans on going anywhere.
He’s not ruling out a return to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. Who knows what the halfpipe will look like then. He’d like to stick around and find out.
“Pushing the sport, that’s what you do it for,” he said. “We try to break the boundaries and see what we can do. I think the double corks have just touched snowboarding within halfpipe. I think we’re just tapping into what is possible.”
And at 23, he’s just tapping into who he will become. After spending the last four years becoming an icon, he’s still trying figure out who he is. Feel free to sit back and watch.
“Being me is a strange thing sometimes, and I’m just trying to get a grasp on it even now,” he said. “I don’t know. I have fun. I have dreams, I have goals and I set out to do them, and it’s basically gotten me this far, and it’s going to take me further.”
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