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Shaun White. Photo: Aika Lau

“Man, you hooked me up Shaun!” – Snowboarding Photo: Aika Lau

The Inertia

Dear Shaun,

Hey brother, you don’t mind if I call you brother, do you? 

For a long time you felt more like a son. You were six years old when we first met. Within a year you’d gained your first sponsorship and went straight into the spotlight. Now, almost 30 years later, you’ve bowed out for what you say is the end. But we both know the reality: it’s not goodbye. It’s simply goodnight.

I have so much to thank you for. I know it must’ve been heartbreaking not to finish your career on the podium in Beijing, but that’s just a testament to your influence. Those kids who medaled owe it to you. Before you, the best trick anyone had ever done to win gold was a McTwist. You quadrupled that and then some. Now, a whole new generation that grew up watching you do the impossible has grabbed the reins. There’s no doubt that it was you who showed them the way, though. We humans are creatures of influence. Without your dedication and drive over the decades, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Neither would those kids taking over now. And we’ll always have Torino, Vancouver, and Pyeongchang.

Your competition days might be over but I’m more than competition. You’ll still put on boots and ride sideways on snow. We’ll continue to have a relationship. It’ll just be different. Maybe to you, who has always had the spotlight pointed directly at those shiny red locks, it seems like goodbye. But really we’re just evolving together.

To be honest, I’m excited about this new phase. Without the world’s attention we can find new ways to get to know each other. Maybe it’s bootpacking up a steep couloir in the Chugach or popping pillows in the Monashees. Or simply riding the tram in Jackson. Maybe you could even take your legendary tricks to a natural halfpipe, stomp the hell out of ’em, and nobody except you and your crew will even know you did it? It’ll still feel good.

Maybe it’s new equipment you’ll develop that we never knew we needed? More films? Or more partnerships within the world of snowboarding?  I see you coming back into our our little world, away from that big mainstream void out there, helping me down here in the trenches, where real snowboarders like you are made. Who – and how – are you going to influence next? Perhaps you’ll make halfpipe more accessible? With your talent and influence, anything is possible.

I love you man. Maybe that’s a bit late to say that as you’ve been saying it to me all along. You’re more responsible than anyone over the past 20 years for helping me get to where I’m at now. I feel like I’m in a really good spot thanks to you. I’m excited for the future; both for what the next generation will do and also for what you have in store. You’re still young. It’s not over. I feel like you’re just getting started.

Thank you, Shaun. See you soon,


Editor’s Note: This “thank you” letter from snowboarding was penned by The Inertia’s longtime contributing writer, Steve Andrews. 


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