Exclusive Q&A: Shaun White discusses Air + Style tour, '18 Olympics, retirement and more
Snowboarding legend/Bad Things guitarist Shaun White is ready to combine his two passions and put on his Air + Style Los Angeles festival for the second straight year.
Coming to Expo Park at the L.A. Coliseum, artists such as J.Cole, Incubus, Kaskade, HAIM, All Time Low, and more will perform alongside top snowboarders competing on the fest's signature 16-story high jump.
WHERE: Viewers eager to tune-in to the festival can catch it exclusively on mobile through go90 - simply download the app via App Store or Google Play.
WHEN: Saturday, February 20, and Sunday, February 21, beginning at 1:30 p.m. PST each day; Show will be available for 30 days on demand following the festival dates.
We had the chance to catch up with Shaun, who also spoke about the 2018 Olympics and the rumor about him retiring.
Q: The Air + Style is coming together, which must be real exciting for you. How cool was it to put the event together?
A: It's a trip, man. I was a competitor at the event, I hosted the event and now I'm the owner of the event, so I have full reign to do whatever my vision is. We're combining the sport and music and making each stop along the tour. Everywhere is different. It's nice to have something ever-evolving, ever-changing. It's hard to sum it all up because so many moving parts. I'm just proud of what we're doing.
Q: Thinking back to first one in LA, were there any big changes you wanted to make? Did you learn a lot from first time?
A: Oh, man. We learned a ton. We picked a venue and were a little behind the ball on things. With that, we were late to sponsors and all these things. It was a miracle to get it done. We pulled it off –- 30,000 people enjoyed. ... But a lot of logistical things have changed with actual event. I feel like it's the same idea, but a bigger scale. There's more artists, more talent. We changed venues in Austria as well, and we did double the attendance. We did great things for LA, but the tour as well.
Q: What is the most fun part?
A: Game day. When you show up and people actually come to the show. You see a people dancing to people or ooh-ing or ahh-ing over snowboard jump, it's a fulfilling thing. It wasn't reality until last time when my mom got there. My mom and dad showed up and they're like, 'what did you do?' (laughs). It was cool. For me, it's watching it all happen. It's great because it's something that's authentic and natural for me. With snowboarding and being a musicisan, it's something that makes sense to me.
Q: And you hope to compete in '18 games, right?
A: I have plans to. I have to go qualify and do all that stuff, but it's definitely a goal of mine. There's hoops you gotta jump through you even get there, though.
Q: You also announced back in September that you are not going to retire, despite what some have suggested. Did that ever cross mind, though?
A: I never announced I was going to retire. It's been an uphill battle to get people to realize I never did. A piece came out, around the Olympics, about how I was older than the youngest person who was competing on the tour –- and of course I look older than someone who's 15. A lot of people do (laughs). To set record straight, I'm continuing to do what I'm doing.
One other thing that happened was, when I was younger, I had things built into certain contracts with certain sponsors, and these were really long-term deals. I was thinking, if I'm going to be a snowboarder for my entire life, it'd be nice to build into my contract years that I don't have to compete. During those years, I'd do filming or whatever -– and I exercised one of those rights and decided to take a year off from competing. That's basically what some of the confusion was to people. But, thank goodness I did, man. I won the first comp of the season, I'm more motivated than ever –- and it's because I took time off. If I can go back in time and high-five my 19-year-old self, I would (laughs).
Q: You're such a decorated athlete, so looking back, what are you most proud of?
A: If you had to pick a specific moment, I was 19 at Torino Olympic Games. It was a big win for me, my family, because all the stuff we had to go through –- (dealing with) schools, calling in sick for work, living in a van on the mountain, making ends meet just so I can achieve my dream. But my dream became a reality. It's great to be on top of a sport that's ever-changing. There's only one way to throw a football, but a sport like this, it's always evolving. For me, I've been competing since I was 7 years old, so it's been a long run. For me to still be here and hopefully going to the next Olympics, it's, I guess, my greatest accomplishment.