WASHINGTON — Shaun White, by all accounts, has had a remarkable career.
At 35, he is a five-time Olympian with three gold medals in half-pipe snowboarding to his name; he has the world records for most X Games gold medals and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder.
He's been a household name in the U.S. for 16 years, since he boarded onto the scene with his first gold medal win at the 2006 Winter Games.
But the long run is finally over. The celebrated snowboarder's Olympic career ended a week ago with a fourth-place finish and a fall on his final run down the halfpipe.
“I’m not sad,” White said, although he cried a few times, including during an interview with NBC when he struggled to keep his composure.
Friday, White posted a heartfelt message thanking those who supported him through his snowboarding journey, from his family and coaches to his inspiration: skateboarder Tony Hawk.
Read the full letter here:
I slid down the halfpipe at the Olympics for the final time. Typing this now makes me just as emotional as I felt last Friday. It brings me tears of joy. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions and I am overwhelmed with appreciation. Closing this chapter of my life has made me reflect on the past 22 years as a professional snowboarder with gratitude.
I want to thank Jake Burton and the entire Carpenter family for supporting me for so many years. Jake revolutionized this sport. He gave me my first snowboard and my first sponsorship at the age of 7...
I wish he could have been at the bottom of the halfpipe in Beijing, just as he was at every other Olympics prior. I miss you dearly, my friend. Thank you.
Thank you to my team. My coach, JJ Thomas, my physical therapist, Esther Lee, my board technician, Kenny Kunalt and my trainer, Jason Walsh and many others. I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you. The long hours of mental, physical preparation and support are what got me to where I am today. Still competing at the Olympics at 35. It takes a village, and I am so incredibly lucky to have had such wonderful and talented humans in my corner over the years.
Thank you to my parents, Cathy and Roger, my sister Kari and my brother Jesse who believed in me every step of the way. We all shared a love of the sport that gave us countless priceless memories. I will cherish them forever. The early mornings driving to the mountains, the 5 of us living in the family van, always trying to one up each other on the slopes. Your guidance, patience, love (and shit talking ) are the reason I am who I am, and the reason I am where I am. I love you.
Thank you, Tony Hawk. You were my role model at such a young age and I'm beyond grateful, so many years later, to call you a good friend. I don't think you'll ever truly know what a positive influence you were on my life.
Tony showed me the ropes... (and took me under his wing when it wasn't cool to have a 8 year old pimply face redhead kid around)
Thank you to all the half-pipe cutters, park builders, event organizers, videographers, photographers, board tuners, chair lift operators and check-in counter staff. Thank you to everyone who makes this sport possible.
Thank you to all my competitors over the years. You challenged and pushed me toward innovation in the sport. You inspired me to push the envelope and made me better.
And of course the fans who have cheered me on along the way. I have felt your passion and support. Your energy has been my fuel.
Snowboarding was my first love. Like any new relationship, it was intoxicating. Snowboarding gave me a rush, made me feel invincible, filled my life with adventure. It gave me purpose and I got to be creative. I've always been a passionate and fierce competitor. I will of course miss snowboarding professionally, but this won't be the last time you see cruising down the mountain.
As this door closes, another opens. I couldn't be more excited to channel my love, and passion for the sport into my new company @whitespace_create. All my time and energy will be focused on building the best possible products for the next generation of promising young talents. I'm passing the torch and I can't wait to see how much higher it soars...
I'm so proud of the last 2 decades of wins, losses, ups, downs, blood, sweat, tears and everything in between because they have made me who I am today. I am beyond humbled and grateful for this beautiful journey. It has been an honor and a privilege. This has been the ride of my life! 'Retirement sounds like the end, but for me it's just the beginning.
The future looks bright...