Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shaun White in Playboy

We just got this early scoop and are publishing it as we received it. Lauren


Snowboarding’s Goofy Hero Talks about the Winter Olympics, Growing up with Tony Hawk, the Downside of Super Competitiveness and His Wandering Gold Medal

“It’s funny, because I’ve misplaced it a couple of times,” says Shaun White in Playboy’s March 20Q when asked where he keeps his Olympic gold medal (issue on newsstands now and online at www.playboydigital.com). “Then one day, I was in my mom’s car, and I went to put something in the back pocket of the front seat. I reached in and pulled out my medal. It was in a plastic bag. I was like, What? … So I’m stoked to have it again. It’s now in a safe place in my house in California.”

Shaun—also known as the “Flying Tomato” because of his long red hair—is already a legend in his sport at age 23. In advance of the upcoming Winter Games, he sat down with Playboy contributor Jason Buhrmester to discuss how early success affected his friendships in high school; his role as a stuntman for Disney; early family ski trips in crowded vans and hotel rooms; and whether or not he smoked pot with Michael Phelps. Following are selected quotes from their conversation:

On smoking pot with Michael Phelps: “With Phelpsy? Old Smoke on the Water? No. To be honest, I’ve never been into going there. My friends, I’ll admit, most of them do.…and now, because it’s Olympic time and everybody’s getting tested for drugs, you see them just sweating bullets, man. I’m like, Ah, whatever.”

On the pressure to perform in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics: “Since I was 13 or so, I can’t remember showing up to an event where I wasn’t the guy to beat. I’ve always been that guy. Not that I was the best guy, but I was always the one who was counted on to perform at a certain level. And I like it, man… I can sit back and go, Wow, if everybody wants to talk to me about the Olympics, that means they think I have a really good shot at doing well. That’s an amazing feeling—that all these people have my back, in a way. To a certain extent they believe in me. I use that. I had a friend who put money on me last time around. I was like [pumps fist], Yeah! [laughs]”

On whether or not he cried after winning a gold medal in 2006: “It was debatable, man…I was starting to get choked up and I was at the point of crying—almost. I mean, my parents were there, the entire world was watching. And I remember Danny Kass made a joke. I swear. So it was a mix of a cry and a humorous thing that pulled me right out of it.”

On being upset at missing the 2002 Olympic snowboard team: “Well, I was 15. I didn’t really understand what the Olympics are all about. But everybody became aware of it in 2002 because the Americans swept the podium. All of the sudden it was this big deal…at that point I understood. I started seeing these guys everywhere, and I was getting phone calls about this guy being the best rider in the world. I was like, Yeah, I’m sure he’s great at that, but he doesn’t do everything. I pride myself as a snowboarder who can ride jumps, half-pipes, rails, whatever you put out there. So I was more upset to go through five contests and not make the big party at the end, ­you know?”

On his blue-collar background and family snowboard trips: “At first we’d take a really small van and drive up and stay at a Motel 6. We’d pile into a room and drop one mattress onto the floor and leave just the box spring for Dad. It was funny because I didn’t know any better. I thought, That’s cool—a slumber party. I was stoked. I had fun. And it made it possible for me to snowboard.”

On how high school classmates treated him after winning his first X Games medals: “That’s when it got weird. I was super-shy. I didn’t know what to do in that scenario. I remember being at school and thinking, Wow, these kids are really digging what I’m doing. This is awesome, and I’ve got all these friends. Then I started to pick apart the friends I had, like, this guy keeps asking me for stuff; this is just getting weird. I realized I was over it.”

On growing up with Tony Hawk: “He’s just a funny guy; he’s a great person. He has never sat me down and said, ‘Hey, here’s some great advice.’ It doesn’t really work like that with him. I was lucky to be introduced to the only guy I knew who could relate somewhat to what was going on with me. I remember hanging with him at airports, getting approached by tons of people and seeing how he dealt with it and how he was cool to every fan who came up. I’d see where he would draw the line and say, ‘Hey, give me a little space.’”

On doing stunt work for Disney: “It’s funny now because we were talking to Disney people about some stuff recently, and I told them, ‘I don’t know if you guys know this, but there was a show called The Jersey, and I used to stunt double on the show for this one kid, Elliott.’ I did skateboard and BMX stuff and even Rollerblading if they needed it. I mean, the kid couldn’t even ride a bike.”

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