I went out to Park City a couple weeks ago to check out Shaun’s new video game. Shaun White Snowboarding will be hitting shelves in the next couple months and the video game company Ubisoft brought a bunch of us out to PC for a media release party. In all honesty I’m not much of a gamer, but if video games are your thing, you’ll be hyped on this one. The graphics are insane, the objective is simply to shred, and it’s as true a representation of snowboarding as an animated game can be.
In the two days I was there Shaun did 23 interviews. Three of which were with snowboard media outlets. The other twenty were with video game journos. And despite the mind-numbing Q&A schedule, Shaun was his jovial, joke-cracking self first interview to last. It was my first time hanging with him and I have to say, for someone who drives a Lambo, hangs with Elton John, and was dubbed “The Coolest Kid in America,” he’s a pretty down-to-earth dude. —L.G.
So first, give me a run down of the game?
Well we’ve been working on the game for two years. It was fun, but a crazy learning process. I didn’t have any idea what goes into a game. There’s a lot. There’s hundreds of programmers working on it day and night. Its been really cool lately because the closer you get to the launch is when everything really starts to ramp up. So now is when I get to really see it all coming together.
It was fun building this game from the ground up because there was just so much to decide about. Like where I wanted to go with the game; do I have everyone ride as me, are you competing against me the whole game. I thought it was a cool scenario to have me as a friend and just kind of guide you along. And you just play as you. So you get to pick your board, you get to pick your stuff and it’s really fun in that way.
And my goal from the start was to keep it somewhat realistic to snowboarding. I was trying to have a kid that’s never been to the snow or never been riding to get a little inkling about what it’s like to do it. And a little taste of what the cultures like.
You do a lot of interviews, what’s the one question that you get asked the most?
That question (laughs). No, just kidding. I saw that in a movie. No, the one I get the most is probably ‘Do I like snowboarding or skateboarding more?’ How am I supposed to answer that. It’s like asking which one of your kids you love more (laughs).
Do you ever get nervous about doing any interviews?
I do but I don’t, you know what I mean. I feel like I’m a pretty level-headed person. I’m a pretty normal person. Being on TV representing something that’s way larger than me is a pretty humbling thing, so I try and portray it that way.
And it’s cool, but it’s also a lot of pressure, ‘cuz I don’t want to say something that makes me sound like an idiot and then have people think that all snowboarders are idiots. I don’t want to wreck what snowboarding is.
How is it balancing all these different directions you’re pulled in?
It’s madness. Yeah it’s a little crazy, ‘cuz the game is such a huge massive project, and we’re doing the clothing with Target. And it’s hard..because they’re really fun outlets, but you have to do ‘em right. I felt like I had enough time to put a lot of effort into the game. So I was flying all over the place to put help put it all together. I’d do the voice over stuff in LA, and I’d fly to Montreal to do motion capture stuff, and just tons and tons of stuff.
And what about outside of developing the game, how is it balancing all the different things you have to do, do you ever get any time to just chill?
Um…I don’t know. It’s weird, ‘cuz I don’t know any different. You know I started snowboarding at six, was sponsored at seven and pro at 13. I started traveling at 12. So any normalcy left the picture at 12. So I’m pretty good at juggling a lot of things. But, I try and take a little bit of time every summer just for myself. Now is the time of the year when I get to take a little bit of time off. And just take a pure vacation.
Do you ever wish you could be anonymous?
Sometimes, but really the fun times outweigh the bad times. It’s always a give and take, you know. I’ll say this, I can understand why people might loose their cool. If I had not signed autographs and had a bit of exposure before the Olympics, then everything after the Olympics would’ve probably freaked me out. But, it’s been fun. It makes some things a lot easier. Like, it makes getting reservations at restaurants a lot easier. Or you get to sneak into the clubs. I’m so busy, but it’s everything I want to do. The way I look at is, that it’s a lot of really awesome problems to have.
Are there any celebrities you’d really like to meet or any you’ve met that you fanned out on?
You know I’m cool with people that are actors, that’s rad, but I’m more stoked on meeting musicians. I think it’s way harder to create music. You’re making something out of nothing, you know. I like those creative personalities.
Are there any musician you still want to meet?
Yeah, any member from Zeppelin would be sweet.
Zeppelin’s your favorite band?
Do you have a favorite Zeppelin song?
No, I kinda dig ‘em all. It’s like Michael Bolton you know, I kinda like ‘em all. (Laughs)
Tony Hawk said that when his video game came out, the money he made off that thing is what allowed him to retire. Now that yours it about to drop is retirement anything you’ve even thought about?
No, shit I’m 21. The way I felt after the Olympics was like “Alright I’m just getting started,” so now it’s like, what do I want to do next. I’m gonna do whatever I want to to now. I feel like I’m just getting going. Especially with skateboarding.
How is it competing against all those vert dudes? Did you ever feel any animosity from them when you started in on the scene?
It was a little weird just ‘cuz I was a new guy. Maybe it was because I was a snowboarder, but I think a little bit of it was them thinking I didn’t need to be there. But I think a lot of it was just because I was new. If you’re breaking into a group of guys where the top ten at any event are the same dudes every time it can throw a wrench into some peoples program. But that was kind of awesome. I like giving people a hard time.
Do you think you’ll ever hit the mega ramp?
Maybe, I don’t know. I think that what those guys are doing is amazing. The fact that they launching this huge jump on a skateboard and doing sevens is incredible. But the thing that I don’t like about it is that it’s portrayed on TV in a sort of daredevil way. People want to tune in to see people break themselves and that’s a bummer, because we’ve worked really hard to get away from that and make people realize that it’s a legitimate sport that takes a lot of skill and practice and a certain mindset. And then the biggest story out of X-Games last summer was that Jake Brown almost died. And that’s scary to me, I don’t think we should celebrate that.
But on a personal level, do you have any desire to throw yourself off that ramp?
Um…no, not really. (Laughs)
And with all this money you’re made from snowboarding, have you given any thought to some sort of foundation or charity?
Yeah it’s actually in the works right now. I actually went down to Rwanda, about a year ago and we visited these orphanages and schools and brought ramps and I did a little demo. It wasn’t meant to inspire them to want to start skating or anything, because that would be ridiculous, but it was just more about showing them something fun that we do in the US, with the hope that it’ll take their mind off all the crazy stuff going on around them. And we ended up sponsoring one of these villages. We helped them build a well.
But I’ve also been thinking about doing something with a heart association, because I had a bunch of open heart surgeries when I was younger. I really love the concept of giving back. I’d love to create something. I’d say within the next year or so something should be up and running.
Which snowboarder or snowboarders do you admire most?
The guys having the most fun. I think Danny Kass has a blast when he’s riding. I dig his style. He doesn’t care, maybe deep down he cares, but it doesn’t seem like it. He just has fun. And I think that’s part what makes him so cool. He’s got great style. I like Pat Moore too. And Heikki Sorsa is insane.
Do you have any ambitions to do more backcountry riding?
Um…yeah, but probably not in the next couple seasons, with the Olympics coming up I’ll just be riding a lot of pipe.