Everyone knows Shaun White as a legendary snowboarder who practically owns the Winter Olympics, but he can do more than just artfully slide on the snow while strapped to a glossy board. Attach some wheels to that board and put it on the ground and White could be headed to an entirely different Olympics.
White is also a skateboarder, and he announced on NBC’s “The Today Show” on Tuesday that he’ll be competing in the world skateboarding championships in Brazil this September. That puts him on the perfect path to compete in the first-ever Olympic skateboarding events at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
White has a record five X-Games gold medals in skateboarding, so he’s no stranger to the sport. It’s been part of his life for a long time, as he said during his “Today” interview.
"There's been so much exposure for the Winter Olympics for my career. But I've been just as much a skateboarder in my other side of my life. That was a goal of my life to really pursue skateboarding and snowboarding and try to be the best at both. I really took a backseat to skateboarding in my career when snowboarding really took off. I've been skating since I was a little kid."
Snowboarding became an Olympic sport in 1998, and since skateboarding has been shut out of the Olympics until now, White’s decision to focus on snowboarding was a no-brainer. But with skateboarding making its debut in 2020, White can now pay attention to the other sport he’s passionate about. And since he’s essentially conquered the world of snowboarding and earned every accolade possible, the timing is working out perfectly.
White will have to fight for a spot like everyone else, though. Just 20 spots are open to each gender in each of the two skateboarding disciplines. But if he does it, and if he’s successful, he’ll be in very rare company. Only five people have ever won medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and only one of those five won gold in both. That one athlete is Eddie Egan, who won gold in the 1920 Summer Olympics in boxing, and won a gold in the 1932 Winter Olympics in bobsled.
But what White really hopes to do is help take skateboarding mainstream, just like he did for snowboarding. Being an Olympic sport will help bring in more fans, more interest, and more recognition for the athletes.
"Now that skateboarding is an Olympic discipline it's going to carry so much weight in the mainstream and show that there's a career in the sport. It's been a long time coming. There are so many amazing athletes that I don't think get the recognition they deserve. They're out there every single day working and training.”
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