I’m not one to jump on a trending topic and milk it for all it’s worth … actually, that’s exactly what I do all the time. It’s called “blogging.” So I figured there’s no time like 24 hours later to reprint the Q&A I did with Shaun White a year and a half ago, before the launch of his multi-platform snowboarding videogame. The game was a decent success, though the Wii version was far superior (if not as deep) as the somewhat boring Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.
I tried to go through this interview and cut out most of the hardcore videogame stuff, since nobody really cares about a game that was released over a year ago. However, since the guy is a great talker and is now clearly one of the best athletes and most famous persons on the planet, I figured a lot of the things he’d have to say here were interesting. After all, I got no direction on where to take my 10-minute interview with him, other than the Ubisoft PR woman telling all of us that we were forbidden to call him “The Flying Tomato.” You know, because he hates that. (Not that I blame him, since tomatoes are used to throw at people, making fun of gingers has become trendy and most tomatoes don’t even taste that good.)
Anyway, if you watched his amazing runs last night in the Winter Olympics halfpipe competition, where he nailed a trick nobody else could probably even think of, you know how ridiculous this ginger is at snowboarding. From this interview, he’s also pretty good at snowball-throwing, gambling and getting girls into his hot tub.
BASG: This game is pretty realistic but there’s a lot of humor in it, too. It looks like that’s an important part of your personality that you wanted to come through in the game.
Shaun White: Yeah, you can snowball people, you can make wagers against them about winning money, and if you win you get to buy new jackets and boards and whatever. It’s fun, it’s a challenge and you get to challenge your friends. You can go complete the whole quest if you want but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. You can really choose what you want to do and that’s what’s fun. You’re not forced down one run, you can go anywhere.
BASG: Are you a good snowball chucker?
Shaun White: Have I snowballed my friends in real life?
Shaun White: Oh man, it gets bad! It’s a war out there.
BASG: The “friends” part of it seems like it’s one of the biggest angles of the game.
Shaun White: I love the wagering, that’s just so funny.
BASG: Do you wager when you’re actually snowboarding?
Shaun White: Oh, man! My friend can’t land tricks unless I put something up for grabs. He cannot do it! He was sitting there trying this easy trick the whole time, and right when you’re like, “Alright, I bet you that you gotta put pink stickers all over your board,” you know. But we actually were skateboarding so the wager was that you gotta put pink grip tape on your board, for like two weeks.
BASG: No wonder he made it!
Shaun White: Yeah! He’s like oh, boom! And he sticks it. It’s funny, he just needed that little extra motivation to get it done.
BASG: Have you talked to Tony Hawk about his experience with a signature game?
Shaun White: Yeah a bit, but I don’t know, I mean Tony’s rad, he’s just one of those dudes where in a way my game sort of competes with his. Not straight up, but he’s been doing his own thing for a couple years now, which is awesome. He’s got a great game, he’s got a great product. For me, it wasn’t so much game play advice or anything like that, I’m sure he can’t even talk about that anyway, or would want to [laughs]. I called him up and was like, “Dude I’m getting my own game, like yeah, it’s crazy.” And he’s excited for me, so it’s cool to be in a sport where somebody’s not mad at you. My friend will win an event and I’m like wow, I’m bummed because I didn’t win, but you know what, it’s a good friend of mine, so I’m stoked.
BASG: Why do you think that is different in what you’re doing, than in say basketball, where you hear about players getting mad at each other?
Shaun White: I don’t know. There’s just a different mentality, there’s rivalries and it all comes down to like the old schooling and what school you used to go to, you know, there’s such deep roots there. It’s like people have been in feuds for years, like Boston and the Yankees, it hasn’t been for the past couple of years, it’s been for years. So if you’re from Boston you grow up going, “I don’t like these guys,” not like that it’s all lighthearted it stays on the field, I’m sure. For our sport, it’s such a new sport.
We don’t have those deep roots yet, we don’t have those things. But I would say within our sport, more than that, it’s a lifestyle, that’s why it’s so popular. It’s a fun sport and it’s backed around a certain lifestyle, and the lifestyle is having fun, being relaxed and being casual and kind of doing your own expressive stuff. You go up on the hill and you’ll see people wearing some of the craziest stuff you’ve ever seen, because they got their own style and their own thing. Some dude’s in crazy-tight jeans and like a raccoon hat and no shirt on, there’s a kid with the craziest tall t-shirt rap style you’ve ever seen and it’s just funny, it’s expressive culture. It’s cool, he’s got his friends and they all hang out together, ’cause it doesn’t matter.
BASG: Obviously you’ve positioned yourself pretty well, is there anybody maybe outside of action sports or snowboarding who you look up to in the business world as a model for you?
Shaun White: You know, it’s funny because the only guy I can really relate what’s happening to me would be Tony Hawk because it’s a similar sport and stuff, but then I realize it’s a whole different thing that what he’s kind of received because I went to the Olympics it’s a whole different spectrum of what’s going on. I definitely think times have changed since Tony first started skating. Skating was peaked, and then it went to nowhere and now it’s back, all of a sudden. He’s seen a lot of different changes and for me to pick up not really where he’s leaving off, it’s just join on that and extend it, is really cool. Sky’s the limit, so I’m doing whatever I want to do.
BASG: You’re a star athlete obviously, clothing line, videogames, you even have an episode of “MTV Cribs”…
Shaun White: Oh, God. I was 16, man, they keep showing that! People are like, “I saw your Cribs,” and I’m like, I look 12 in that footage.
BASG: You also had girls waiting for you in the hot tub though, that was a good part of it…
Shaun White: You know, [laughing] young guys have crazy needs.