AP Exclusive: White eyes Super Bowl, rest and fresh start | Sports

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Shaun White’s next big contest — the Super Bowl.

Less than 24 hours after the global snowboarding icon completed his last competitive halfpipe round at the Olympics, he was on his way to the airport. The destination: Los Angeles to attend his first Super Bowl in person.

White said his girlfriend, actress Nina Dobrev, suggested he get busy making a list of things he wants to do in retirement “so I don’t sit around twiddle my thumbs.”

“I’ve been to house parties and stuff. I’ve never been to the game, so I’m glad to check that out on the list,” White said in a phone interview with The Associated Press, as he traveled to Beijing on Saturday to catch a train flight. end of the night.

After that, it will take some time to relax.

The preparation for his last competition, then the tears after his fourth placehave been an emotional roller coaster for the three-time champion.

“I woke up this morning and just felt this peace,” White said. “It was amazing to know that I had so much ahead of me.”

White said his phone blew up — it was all backing him up. And while no athlete has meant more to the sport of snowboarding than the 35-year-old Californian, he admitted he had been nervous about the kind of reaction he would get.

“As a competitor, I always wanted to be on the podium and I didn’t know if people would still respect my legacy,” he said.

He rode a strong run to enter the medal chase, but with a chance to move up one spot and land on the podium, his legs weakened and he fell as he attempted the second of 1440 consecutive – one of the toughest combinations in sport.

The less-than-perfect performance, his emotional reaction to it, and even his worries about what other people would think – all of which revealed the softer side of White, who went from ‘The Flying Tomato’ to a sport cross-platform and business icon before the eyes of the world. Last week in the mountains above Beijing sparked a wave of feelings every step of the way.

A second thought on his decision to hang up?

“The initial reaction from the competition was, ‘Oh, I almost got the podium and I want to come back and try again,'” White said. one of the best athletes. But I think I’m going to enjoy this new way of life much better.

Dobrev took to social media and praised her boyfriend, saying, “You will forever be the GOAT of snowboarding. Not to mention you’re also the G.(B).OAT = Greatest Boyfriend Of All Time.

“I couldn’t be prouder. Of all you have accomplished over the past 20 years as a competitor and the man you have become,” she wrote.

White’s next chapter will include a dive into business.

He teamed up with his brother Jesse to launch a new snowboard brand, Whitespace. He said a first set of snowboards sold out online within 15 minutes. White also owns a music and competition event, Air & Style, which could get new legs if COVID-19 goes away.

White said one of his accomplishments as he weighed whether to retire was that “instead of beating these guys here, I want to start sponsoring them.”

He’s still figuring that part out. He said offering advice and helping a few young riders find their way in the sport is intriguing. A dip in training — at least like his buddy and trainer, 2002 bronze medalist JJ Thomas — might take a little longer.

“I would need time before I did something like that, and it would have to be a very special situation,” White said. “But definitely supporting to some extent would be very nice, I think.”

But before that, a little rest.

Even for a megastar used to traveling the world, the past four months have been long. There was a long period of training in Europe, which also led to the decision to retire.

There was a bumpy swing through the qualifying rounds, which were hampered by an ankle injury, a bout with COVID-19, a broken bond in a contest, and then a quick and unexpected trip to Switzerland to secure his place in the team.

And then China. It was no easy journey for anyone, and for White, it was made all the more eventful — and emotional — as the spotlight shone on the latest performance of her one-of-a-kind career.

“The advice I’ve gotten from others is, ‘Just take a second,’” White said. “I just want to take a break and really soak up this moment, all that I’ve done and won and enjoyed, and then see what sparks my interest.”

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