***originally published on February 18th, 2014
Shaun White does seem to be generally resented by the snowboarding community. Snowboarders that I spend time with constantly disrespect Shaun and pooh-pooh his achievements. I asked the two snowboarders I live with why they don’t like Shaun White and here’s what they said:
“I hate him because he’s supposedly the biggest representative of our sport and he’s not really a part of the community. I hate him for riding with a Target sticker on his helmet: a display of pure money with nothing to do with the sport. I hate his leather biker outfit. Before, I always thought he was kinda ridiculous, but I hate him now for taking somebody’s opportunity to compete in the Olympic slopestyle this year. That could have been such a big chance for some kid; the chance of a lifetime, ya know.” – snowboarder #1
“I don’t like the image of what he stands for: coming from so much money and support. I don’t like him being so dominate that it’s taken away from other’s chances to have a fantastic experience in the completive world. I’ve never met him and I’m sure he’s a totally rad dude.” – snowboarder #2
Here’s what Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports said about why snowboarders don’t like Shaun White:
By the time Shaun White‘s second run through the men’s halfpipe final fell apart and his reign as Olympic champion was over, you could all but feel the joy surge through the mountain air here. Well, at least among some.
Almost no one likes Shaun White anymore. Or so it seems. At least some of his fellow riders act that way, even though they owe the size of their corporate sponsorships to the redhead from San Diego.
Somewhere along the way he became too big, too corporate, too selfish, too good, or too whatever. Or maybe he was always that way, but grew human enough on the board that the others no longer feared taking shots at him. Maybe it’s generational. Whatever it was, in private or public, the feeling here was clear.
“You know it’s good for snowboarding, man,” American teammate Danny Davis said of White finishing fourth, far behind winner Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland. “The world knows now that there are other snowboarders besides Shaun. It’s great, man, because there are a bunch of good riders in our sport and they deserve some credit, too.”
Here’s what Business Insider said about why snowboarders don’t like Shuan White:
Shaun White is not well-liked among fellow snowboarders. The reasons White’s competitors don’t like him are the same reasons White has dominated the sport for years and why his failure in Sochi is unlikely to be the end of his career.
American Danny Davis, who finished tenth in the halfpipe competition, was a guest on “The Dan Patrick Show” and was asked why snowboarders hate White.
Davis said it may be jealousy for some riders. But more importantly, he pointed out what has long been known about White, that he is just not part of the snowboarding social network.
“Like a lot of my friends, when we learn new tricks, we learn with a big group of us,” said Davis. “Shaun kind of does everything on his own…Unfortunately we don’t get to hang with him much.”
After reading all these answers to the question of why snowboarders don’t like Shaun White, it’s beginning to become clear what the reasons are. Overall, it feels like Shaun’s overly competitive nature, his commercial prowess (read here: sell-out), and his desire to do things on his own and in his own way has been his public downfall.
I’m a skier myself, so my opinion doesn’t count here. That said, I think Shaun’s amazing. Someone who can focus as intensely as he does and win under pressure impresses me. Most of us crumble under high pressure. Shaun uses that same pressure to shine. The way he competes reminds me of Kelly Slater and Kelly is the best. Shaun is also the best. Even the 2 snowboarders I interviewed admitted that they thought Shaun is the best.
You can bet on one thing for sure: Shaun White will be back on top soon. He’s not the kinda guy to take losing lightly.