OK, so snowboarder Shaun White didn’t win the 2014 Winter Olympic gold medal this year for halfpipe. Yeah, he also dropped out of the slopestyle event to focus on that single thing. And sure, he didn’t even medal at all in Sochi, Russia, but that doesn’t change anything about how great he is.
He’s brought more attention to the world of snowboarding than anyone else. He might be hated for it among certain circles, but for those of us who only snowboard about once a year, he’s a huge inspiration.
Here are all the reasons, in no particular order, why I’m still a fan of America’s favorite snowboarder.
Middle school me fell in love with the “Flying Tomato” because his long, curly, sunset-colored hair was everything I wanted mine to be. No, seriously — I cut my hair to look more like his.
Usually men with long hair rock it, but don’t know the best way to keep it clean and flowy so it sort of falls flat (re: Jack White). Shaun’s hair always seems effortlessly bouncy and recently washed.
Things only got better when he cut his hair and donated it to Locks of Love, a charity dedicated to helping children affected by long-term medical hair loss because “somebody needs it more than I do.” He posted a video to YouTube called “It’s Only Hair” and since I donated more than 12 inches of my hair once, this made my heart soar. Not to mention that his new haircut looks amazing.
Shaun should really be spokesman for energy supplements because his bubbling personality would definitely sell the product. He always seems to be going full-throttle, even while doing something as energy-consuming as snowboarding.
The 27-year-old could be exhausted after hitting the biggest competitions for more than a decade, or bitter after missing out on a medal many expected to be his, but his charming smile was the thing that showed after the run and he even gave the winner, Switzerland’s Iouri “I-Pod” Podladtchikov, a hug.
His love for his fans
Before the heart-breaking event, Shaun came out with a video he posted on YouTube and tweeted from his personal Twitter account, @shaun_white thanking his fans for their support. He also jumped over the barricade separating fans and competitors to meet and greet them.
He knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without support and he’s not afraid to thank his fans and doesn’t think he’s too cool for it. Sure, every star thanks their fans but that doesn’t mean everybody is willing to literally jump over walls to do it.
He had surgery as a baby
The snowboarding sensation was born with four heart abnormalities in a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and in his first year of life, he had to have two open-heart surgeries.
It’s always inspiring to hear someone start from the bottom and come through surgeries at such a young age, but Shaun didn’t stop there. He now takes that same heart to fear-inducing heights and sends it speeding downhill on only a small board. He’s the type of person that doesn’t give up (besides dropping out of slopestyle and the X Games but he’s just a really passionate person, too, and didn’t want to lose his focus).
And I guess he can snowboard, too
Ultimately, so what if he came in fourth? I know it’s not what he wanted or what we as a country wanted, but he’s won two Olympic gold medals already, which is an incredible feat. He’s represented our country and already been shown to be the best not once, but twice before. And in his third Olympic games, he still was the fourth best person in the world standing at the end of the day.
In my book, he’s still the best. And he’s still the background of my computer.