Shaun White - formerly known as ″The Flying Tomato” | The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang | DW | 05.02.2014
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Shaun White - formerly known as "The Flying Tomato”

Shaun White is one of the most flamboyant athletes in winter sports. The snowboarder was the star of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Since then his looks have changed – but he’s still on track for gold.

Shaun White still likes to carry his little camera around– in his office, on the training course and on the half pipe – so he can upload video snippets from his daily routine to the internet. 4.3 million people watched the #link: video of White cutting his trademark long hair# (which had given him the nickname "The Flying Tomato") in December 2012.

Shaun White is the outstanding athlete in the international snowboard scene, which thrives on its unconventional image. He was born in 1986 with a heart defect, which forced him to undergo surgery twice before his first birthday. It was concern for his health that led his mother to stop him from skiing – but when he got hold of a snowboard it became obvious quickly what an outstanding talent he was.

His sporting success is impressive: 2006, at age 19, he won his first gold on the half pipe at the winter games in Turin. He defended his title in Vancouver four years later, scoring a record 48.5 of 50 points. At the Winter X Games – the top snowboarding competition aside from the Winter Olympics – he still holds the record for being the first and only athlete to ever score the full 100 points.

Perfect marketing

But Shaun White is not only an outstanding athlete – he also boasts considerable business skills. At the age of seven he signed his first sponsorship deal. In recent years he has been promoted by several big names – Red Bull even built him a special half pipe in the mountains of Colorado.

But since then he's developed more autonomy and has pursued his own projects: He has his own fashion label, develops video games, and has made appearances on television shows. In addition to prize money and sponsorships, White's wide range of commercial projects ensure him an income of several million dollars per year – useful for a man who owns a nine-million dollar mansion. In Vancouver he was the top earner among the athletes – and that will also be the case in Sochi this year.

Times are a-changing

Shaun White says he's matured. He says he is not as wild as he was in his early days when he would think of little more than performing ever more breathtaking stunts. His latest project is playing the guitar in the rock band "Bad Things," which will launch its first album after the Winter Olympics.

But whether it is Shaun the athlete or Shaun the businessman: He goes after his goals with a fierce ambition. In Sochi he was set to also go after gold in the new slopestyle competition, where riders have to find creative ways around and over obstacles on a special race-course.

Unfortunately injury forced him to withdraw from the event shortly before the Games, but that doesn't mean he'll miss out on the podium. He still has the task of winning a record third-straight half pipe gold medal. If he manages that, photographs of his happy face are sure to make all the magazine covers yet again.

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