Shaun White returns to last Olympics

ZHANGJIAKOU, China –

Three-time gold medalist Shaun White is back for his fifth and likely last Olympics, looking to cement his legacy in the mountains outside Beijing in a sport that became synonymous with his name 16 years ago.

White was 19 when he picked up his first gold medal at the Turin Games in 2006 and has since become the most successful and high-profile snowboarder in the world after winning his third gold medal in spectacular fashion at the Pyeongchang Games 2018.

In recent years, the 35-year-old has suffered numerous injuries, admitting in a Rolling Stone interview last month that the sport is increasingly straining his body. The athlete, who is dating actress Nina Dobrev, also said family life appealed to her.

Away from the halfpipe, White also recently launched a luxury snowboard and lifestyle brand, WHITESPACE, which features a collaboration with the late Virgil Abloh of Louis Vuitton.

In January, White made a confident return to the Laax Open snowboarding halfpipe in Switzerland, finishing third behind Beijing favorite Ayumu Hirano of Japan and Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer. Fans beaming and excited after the competition, White looked relaxed after a race with a Double McTwist 1260.

The Swiss competition took place just weeks after White, who was born with a heart defect, recovered from a bout of COVID-19, which he contracted while on vacation.

On Tuesday, White shared an Instagram video of his plane landing in Beijing, followed by images of his bus driving through the Chinese capital ahead of the official opening of the Winter Games this week.

White will face a horde of younger and younger rivals when he takes part in the snowboarding halfpipe competition from next Wednesday.

In an Instagram post before the Games, White reflected on his career on the slopes, noting that he had spent the past 29 years on a snowboard, 23 of them as a professional athlete.

“I’m so proud to have helped develop and shape the sport into what it is today. I can’t wait to see where the next generation takes it.”

(Edited by Robert Birsel)

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