Shaun White the unstoppable force in action sports. © Getty Images
X Games Preview: Shaun WhiteJul 30 2006 / Los Angeles, CA
When you can say that the only name in action sports that is more famous than yours is Tony Hawk, you know you're very good at what you do. The only person who can say that right now, and actually be right about it, is Shaun White. The cover of Rolling Stone doesn't go to just anyone. Neither do Olympic gold medals. Shaun has been well known for a long time, but to compare his current fame to anything he has had in the past is to insult his recent accomplishments. He is enjoying a high point (not the high point) in his career, a career which only seems to be growing.
And it has a chance to seriously grow in the next couple weeks.
If Shaun wins a gold at Summer X Games 12, he will be the first athlete ever to win a Winter X gold, Summer X Gold, and Olympic gold. It might seem like we're grasping at straws so that we can compliment & talk up White, but think this one out. The Olympics are still hated on a certain amount by some people involved in action sports (and so are the X Games for that matter), but for Shaun to accomplish all of this and still keep his...well, "street cred", is the biggest accomplishment of all.
Shaun Palmer attained near this level of fame (relative to the popularity of action sports at the time), but he didn't retain the respect from all parties that Mr. White does. The snowboarders see his skating as a big deal (secretly most snowboarders wish they were pro skateboarders), and the skaters see his snowboarding as something a bit goofy that he happens to be very good at (skateboarders don't usually wish they were pro snowboarders) and which seems to help him with his skateboarding.
And it does. When Shaun decided at last year's Summer X to go for the 1080 (yes, on his skateboard), I'm sure his snow-friends were the only ones not surprised. When snowboarding is being pushed to the limits of 1440s, it seems silly to keep skateboarding locked up at 900. Known for having some of the most graceful (and longest grabbed) 1080s in snowboarding, there is no one better to carry the torch in to the skateboard world. Not only would it push skateboarding to an entirely different level, but it would also cement White's place in history as arguably the best action sports crossover athlete of all time (arguably the best action sports athlete of all time...arguably one of the best athletes of all time).
In nearly a week, Shaun will have two chances to complete the trifecta: Summer X, Winter X, Winter Olympics. One chance in skateboard vert, and one chance in skateboard vert best trick. And with the constant possibility of skateboarding becoming an olympic sport, "Summer Olympic gold" should not be written off completely. In fact, with Shaun, nothing should ever be written off completely.
- Cody Allen