Professional skate and snowboarder Shaun White, 35, said at a press conference in Zhangjiakou that this will be his final Olympics. This choice was influenced by a long list of injuries.
“I was in Austria. The pipe wasn’t in the best conditions. I had this ankle issue which prevented me from competing further at the Mammoth qualification,” White said. “I had this knee issue from where I had surgery in the summer before, and I injured my back working out randomly.”
He realized this last fall in Austria while watching other snowboarders pull off stunts he couldn't execute because of a hurting knee, ankle, and back.
“It was a sad and surreal sort of moment,” White recalled Saturday. “But also kind of joyous, as well. I kind of reflected on things I’ve done and looked at the sun going down and went, ‘Wow, next time I’m here, I won’t be stressed about learning tricks or worried about some competition thing.”
It's not just his injuries that are bothering him; the increasing pressure of competitiveness is also getting to him.
“[…] It’s just so much to get here, so much pressure, so much weighing on you that relief is so wanted and needed and then I usually take the season after the Olympics off to just refocus and get excited about things again. … But yeah, I think this will be my last— well, it will be my last competition, which is pretty special, too.”
He has a week of practice before competition begins next Friday, so he has opportunity to earn one last medal before retiring.
“I have some runs in my head that I’d like to do, and it’s all about visualizing and then making it happen day-of,” he said. “I have an idea in my head of what I can put down, and as long as I can put that down, I’m happy.”