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Popular snowboarder Shaun White aims to win in Pyeongchang

Popular snowboarder Shaun White aims to win in Pyeongchang

Posted January. 04, 2018 08:51,   

Updated January. 04, 2018 09:38


Two-time Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White was seriously injured in September last year by crashing in half pipes during training in New Zealand. He underwent a major surgery that required 62 stitches on his forehead, nose and tongue. In response to concerns on whether he would be able to go to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, White said, “My life as a model might be over, but I am definitely ready to go the Olympics.”

“I was really disappointed because I knew exactly what I did wrong. I was so excited that I jumped too early, before finishing the pipe wall. Still, I know that it could have been worse,” he said. “I feel fortunate because I can still play. I’ve never lost so much blood over 25 years of snowboarding. Because my mouth was torn, I couldn’t even smile for some time.”

But even before his major injury in New Zealand, White was seen carried away on a stretcher several times by other players. He had spent several hours perfecting advanced techniques. When he won the recent U.S. open, the last match of the previous season, he announced that he would become “an entirely new player in the next season.” His remark shows that he was focused on the Pyeongchang gold medal, which is probably why he spent most of his time in the snowfields of New Zealand, rather than the beaches of California, where he usually vacationed while skateboarding or playing as a band member.

In the 2014 Sochi Olympics, White had to endure the humiliation of winning no medal at all, contrary to expectations for winning three times in a row. After the event, White reflected on his failure, pondering on the reason for his defeat.

Though White was an Olympic gold medalist, it was only after Sochi that he began to work out with a professional trainer. White was known to work out only once every two weeks, driving himself so hard on a single workout day to make up for the days of rest.

In the world of half pipe snowboarding that is dominated by teenagers, 32-year-old White is viewed as an “ancient” figure. White is no longer a dominant winner of half pipes. New techniques are displayed each year, with younger athletes eager to complete.

When asked whether the Shaun White era is closing, he responded that he had another reason, other than to restore his title, to stand on the winner’s podium in Pyeongchang. He has framed all the jackets he has worn at the Olympics at home. The jackets bore the autographs of fellow medalists, but only the Sochi jacket is bare. “Because of Sochi, the collection is not complete. I want to get the autographs of the winners at Sochi and finish the collection with the Pyeongchang jacket,” he said.

Bo-Mi Im bom@donga.com