Published August 13, 2010
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Truth be told, Shaun White prefers skateboarding.
Snowboarding fans, take a deep breath: That doesn't mean White won't return to the mountain. Indeed, he's planning to be at the 2014 Sochi Olympics to defend his gold medal in the halfpipe.
However, now that his life has settled from the Vancouver Games, White is enjoying his wheels.
"It's nice to get out of the cold and snow," he said. "A change is always nice. That's what's motivating me now."
White is competing this week in the Dew Tour's Portland stop, continuing his comeback in the sport after being sidelined last season by injury and Olympic prep.
The red-haired 23-year-old and six others from Thursday's skate vert prelims advanced to Sunday's final round at the Rose Garden Arena, home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. The field for the finals includes Canadian Pierre-Luc Gagnon, three-time Dew Cup winner Bucky Lasek, a veteran at 37, and defending Portland skate vert winner Bob Burnquist of Brazil.
White said he plans to again try his trick "The Armadillo" in Portland. He landed it for the first time in competition at the X Games in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, but ended up as runner-up to Gagnon.
And what exactly is the Armadillo? A frontside heel-flip body varial 540, of course.
White, who has won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the halfpipe, is also known as the first person to medal in both the summer and winter X Games. He has won three gold medals on the Dew Tour, but none since 2008.
Last season, in addition to training for the Olympics, White was dealing with a bone chip in his ankle that prevented him from competing on the Dew Tour. The injury didn't hamper him as much in his snowboard boots.
The injury flared on him again this year, keeping him from participating in the first Dew Tour stop in Boston.
"I guess if I had to pick a sport I would go with skateboarding, which sounds odd," he said. "It's just because I don't get to do it as often. ... It's one of those things you kind of always want that you don't get as much."
White started out as a snowboarder, claiming his first sponsorship at age 7, but he took to skateboarding under legend Tony Hawk's tutelage at 13.
With his flowing hair, White has since become the face of action sports -- indeed, he's possibly one of today's most recognized athletes from any realm.
Before the skate vert prelims on Thursday, White wore a W-emblazoned T-shirt from his line of clothing for Target, and talked up his new video game, aptly titled "Shaun White Skateboarding." he joked about how he got "TMZ'd" in the Los Angeles Airport, referring to the popular entertainment blog.
The ever-growing recognition has led to an exploding fan base.
"Everywhere I go it's like, 'Dude, my grandma LOVES you!"' he laughs.