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Snowboard legend White to retire after Olympics

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA (AFP) – American snowboard legend Shaun White said yesterday he will retire from competition after he attempts to defend his Olympic title in Beijing, citing the “little signs” from his 35-year-old body.

The three-time halfpipe champion said he intends to “squeeze every bit of fun and excitement” out of his fifth and final Games before bringing the curtain down on his storied career.

“In my mind, I think I’ve decided this will be the last competition,” said the man who has done more than anyone to bring snowboarding to the world’s attention.

“It’s this now, it’s that now – it’s all these little things adding up that’s taking away from days of practice that I would normally have.”

White added that watching other riders – some half his age – pull off “heavier and heavier” tricks was also a factor.

He acknowledged that “everyone is catching up” to his level, and said just getting to Beijing was an achievement in itself.

White only booked his spot in the United States (US) team at the last moment, after injuries and a bout of COVID hampered his progress.

Shaun White celebrates during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. PHOTO: AFP

But he is determined to go out with a bang in Beijing, saying he is “still incredibly competitive in any situation”.

“I’m the year of the tiger, and I was reading my personality traits,” he said.

“It was pretty spot on about how competitive I am and how much I want to be in that limelight and do what I came here to do.”

White said there is “still a life to be had within the sport outside of competition”, and reflected on his long and illustrious snowboarding career.

Bursting onto the Olympic scene in 2006, White was known as the ‘Flying Tomato’ for his lustrous long red locks and explosive riding style.

He won gold in the halfpipe in 2006 and 2010 before missing out on a medal in a shock upset at the 2014 Sochi Games.

But he regained his crown four years later in Pyeongchang with a dramatic last ride, which he described as his “legacy performance”.

“The thing I’m the most proud of would be staying on top of a sport that’s ever-changing for as long as I have,” he said.

“It’s almost like fashion – it’s ever-changing, you’re trying to guess the trend of what’s going to happen and have your finger on the pulse.”

White will have strong competition in Beijing from Australian Scotty James and Japanese riders Ayumu Hirano, Yuto Totsuka and Ruka Hirano.