This year probably wasn’t easy for Shaun White. He finished off 2015 strong with a December win in the Dew Tour’s halfpipe competition, then began 2016 left off the X Games’ invite list. Among other things.
But White – without question an action sports icon thanks to gold medals in both winter and summer X Games – has persevered. And in doing so, it seems, has looked to other interests outside the boardsports realm to inspire him. Realistically, the man has always had ambitions outside of the sports world. And there really isn’t an action sports athlete on the planet with the same level of visibility as the Southern Californian, so any headline can positively, or negatively, impact “Shaun White,” the brand. And on this night, when the piece above was filmed, we were meeting for that exact reason. White was launching his WHT SPACE, a clothing line he designed and a pursuit that adds to a laundry list of interests that qualify him as a businessman as much as an athlete. But unlike a lot of athletes who can cash checks for simply slapping a sticker on a board or helmet, White says he learned early on it was important to have a say in anything his name appears on. Whatever lessons he learned in those early years of navigating the vast, often complicated, sea of sponsorship, he’s applying to business interests like WHT SPACE and Air + Style today. “If it doesn’t succeed, that’s a part of me,” he says.
As we talk, he openly explains how he navigates it all without losing ground as a competitor (he’s working on qualifying for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea). I mean, technically it was strapping on bindings and stepping on a skateboard that opened up all these doors for White to begin with. So one would assume that all these other endeavors are secondary to the Olympic and X Games gold medals. But according to White, it’s really simple. “Follow your instincts,” he says.
But is it really all that simple? Or is it just that simple for Shaun White?