Shaun White has confirmed what most already assumed: the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be his last before retirement.
White, 35, will be competing at his fifth Olympics when the men’s snowboarding halfpipe competition kicks off on Wednesday with qualifying heats. White is a three-time gold medalist in this event, since his debut at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, when he was just 19 years old.
“I was in Austria. The pipe wasn’t in the best condition. I had this ankle problem that kept me from continuing to compete in Mammoth qualifying,” White told reporters in Beijing, via CNN. “I had this knee problem from my surgery the summer before, and I injured my back while training randomly. And during the chairlift ride, the mountain was closing and there was no nobody, and I was watching the sun go down, and it just hit me. I was like, ‘This is it, these are the signs.’
“It was a very sad and surreal moment, but also a very joyful one. I thought about everything I’ve done, and I watched this sunset go down, and I thought, ‘The next Once I’m here I won’t be stressed learning tricks I won’t be worried about some kind of competition I’ll just be here to enjoy the resort maybe try some other tracks in addition to the halfpipe for once.'”
Snowboarding events were first added to the Olympic program in 1998, and White is the only athlete in the sport to win three gold medals. He secured his spot at the Beijing Games with a third-place finish at the Laax Open in Switzerland in January, which propelled him up the world rankings.