Undoubtedly the country’s most recognizable ginger, Shaun White has established himself as a household name in the sport of snowboarding. Like Tony Hawk and skateboarding, White was undoubtedly the first athlete from his sport to gain major celebrity and global notoriety. He quickly became a media staple, appearing in numerous commercials for Target, Red Bull, HP and others. Receiving his first snowboarding sponsorship at the ripe age of seven, he went pro in skateboarding at 17, and won his first gold medal (for snowboarding) at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Now only 25 years old, White continues to impress with his unprecedented snowboarding talent, stunning audiences this past weekend with a perfect performance at the Winter X Games. On Friday, White suffered an ankle sprain, missing Saturday’s pipe practice and leaving many to wonder if he would even be able to compete in his signature event, Sunday’s superpipe final. He has won the Winter X gold medal for this event the past four years in a row, the first athlete ever to have done so.
Despite these worries, however, White came through to deliver a performance yesterday that was extraordinary even for him. Setting records for amplitude and exhibiting technical difficulty never before seen, he delivered the first truly perfect performance in Winter X Games history, with an 18-foot backside air, a 17-foot frontside double cork 1080, an 11-foot switch frontside double cork 1080, a 14-foot frontside cork 540, a 13-foot backside double cork 1260 and a 12-foot frontside double cork 1260—the first back-to-back double cork ever performed at the Winter X Games.
The resulting judge’s score of a perfect 100 is unprecedented in Winter X Games history, and earned White his fifth Winter X gold medal in a row. Audiences could not believe their eyes, and White, while not entirely speechless, was certainly (and rightfully) proud:
“It was bizarre—and my coach Bud Keene was saying ‘They’re going to give you a 100 if you make it,’” said White. “I’m thinking he was very excited. But I don’t know, I just came through it and everything felt perfect. I was landing the 10 at the top and the cab double came through perfect. I don’t know if I have ever landed my double Mc12 as clean as I have tonight, so that just set myself up perfect for the frontside double cork 12. I guess [I’m] the first ever to do back-to-back double cork 12s. What a night.”