Original Published In TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine Oct Issue 2003.

Interview by Chris Coyle

Originally I wanted to come out and tell you that Shaun White’s life is just like any other sixteen-year-old kid’s out there— social studies, chasing girls, the usual stuff that goes on for teenagers all across America. But it’s not. Most teenagers don’t own three houses or buy a 30,000-dollar car with their own money (which is funny in itself, because he won three cars before his sixteenth birthday anyway). And I’ll eat my shoe if you can show me another kid who got knocked out while doing a doubles skateboarding run with Bob Burnquist. How many people do you know who have traveled the world a few times over? Or hang out with Tony Hawk? Are tons of your buddies entering Winter X-Games for snowboarding and Summer X-Games for skateboarding? Doubt it, no matter how old you are.

Still, zits, voice crackin’, and puberty wait for no boy—regardless of financial stature or skills. While most do it surrounded by their peers, Mr. White has had to endure life’s little quirks encircled by folks twice his age as well as the entire snow/skate world.

But there is way more to him than bling bling and celebrity hobnobbin’, the kid is wise far beyond his years. So sit back, throw your feet up, and take a journey into the man/child behind the mask, Shaun White.

Do you ever think about slowing down on the contests and concentrating on a video part?

See, the thing for me is I like contests—trying to figure out a pipe one day and then trying to kill it the next. And if it all works out, there is a bunch of cash at the end—plus it’s fun hanging out with all my friends.

I didn’t get much filming done {this season} ’cause I did so many contests and things were so busy—it just didn’t work out. I would love to go out and film all year—maybe only do like three or four big events a season. But right now I’m having fun—so we’ll see.

Most of the video and photos we see of you are from parks. Do you spend any time in the backcountry?

Right now I don’t feel the need to go out there. After the recent things that have gone down, it’s pretty sketchy in the backcountry. Riding parks is super fun for me anyway.

How many events did you do last year?

Fifteen or so, and each one takes about a week, so I was on the road a lot.

What do you do when you get home from all these trips?

Basically just skate and hang out with my friends. What a lot of people don’t understand is that I still have to go to school. It’s not homeschool, though, it’s set up through Carlsbad High School {in Southern California}.

During the winter I try to get as much work done as I can, but with all the traveling it’s tough. So in the summer when everyone else is out, I’m still doing work to catch up. Luckily my setup is pretty loose, and there’s a really cool teacher who helps me out.

Is college in your future?

Well, the thing about that is snowboarding and skateboarding aren’t something you can leave, go to college, come back and be on top. So right now, I just want to keep going, but later on I’ll go back to school, maybe get a business degree or something.

Are you a professional skateboarder, as well?

Yeah, I went pro at the Slam City Jam this year. It was my first pro contest—so scary, but it was something I had to do to figure out whether I wanted to {be a pro skater} or not. I got fourth, which gave me the X-Games spot.

Would you want to skate instead of snowboarding, or are you going to pursue both?

Both. Snowboarding will always be my main focus, but I also want to see what I can do with skating—just try and keep it to the summer X-Games, Gravity Games, the Triple Crowns, and Slam City. Maybe four or five contests per year, that’s it. Then try to film for Birdhouse as much as possible. I also shot some stuff the last couple of years for both the Adio video and theirs. So hopefully that works out.

LLast year at The Sessions in Vail you won 30,000 dollars cash in two days. What exactly does a sixteen year old do with that kind of change?

Vail’s been good to me the last couple of years. The funny thing about that is when I was going home, I just left the money in the briefcase. When it went through the X-ray, security opened it up and were like, “What the hell?” {Laughs.}

Most of my money just goes into the bank. My mom helps me with investing it, we’ve bought three houses—one we live in, and the other two are rentals. We’re trying to get a fourth in Oceanside {California} on the beach. Luckily, most of the decisions have been good ones.

No Ferarris or solid-gold T-shirts?

No {laughs}.

It seems like you have a pretty tight family.

They’ve helped me out so much. They’re the ones that would drive me to Mammoth or Mt. Hood in the summers so I could snowboard as much as possible. It’s been a long road to get here, and they’ve been there the whole time.

How long have you been a “professional” snowboarder?

It really started at the U.S. Open when I was twelve. I entered the Junior Open and the normal Open. They freaked out when I showed up at the junior event, so from that day on I said, “Forget it, I’m gonna just enter pro.” It was probably the best decision I ever made—in the amateur contests I had a run I could always win with, but once I was in the pro events it pushed me harder to learn new stuff.

Your mom and dad travel with you a lot—does that get weird, say, if you’re trying to meet some ladies?

Sometimes it’s weird if there’re a bunch of girls around—but for the most part I like having my parents there. My dad is rad, and when my mom’s there I don’t have to worry about anything {laughs}. I’ll make it to the contest on time, and everything is going to be taken care of.

The only thing I’d say is weird is that it might feel awkward for them, being around snowboard kids that are partying all the time.

Growing up surrounded by people twice your age must have been weird.

For me it was weird, ’cause at maybe fourteen I decided that I wasn’t down with the whole party scene. So seeing all these guys getting drunk and coming home with random girls was super strange to me.

The other strange thing was that I had friends who were fourteen, then there were my friends who were 26. So stuff that would be funny to the younger guys wasn’t funny at all to the older guys. I had to learn how to talk to older people.

Then, when I started traveling, seeing all the other cultures and how tough some people have it made me pretty grateful. I mean, I get to travel around the world, snowboard, and they pay me for it.

Okay, the one mandatory interview question—who’s payin’ the bills?

Volcom, Burton, Oakley, Target, and Sony PlayStation.

What exactly do you get by being sponsored by Target?

That’s what everybody is always asking. All they want me to do is wear one of their stickers, but the cool thing is they want to sponsor anything that I do. They’re just like, “What can we do for you? We want to be a part of what you’re doing.” I get to pick an event, and they’re going to sponsor the riders’ lounge—make it the sickest lounge ever. Bring in chefs, big couches—everyone walking around in slippers. It’s gonna be sick.

What’s this your mom told me about the Ozzfest?

Oh {laughs}, for my sixteenth birthday Sony took me to the Ozzfest. As we’re walking up to watch the show, this guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, you’re Shaun White.” So I’m like, “Yeah, nice to meet ya.” Just then—he grabs his girlfriend, all the sudden she pulls up her shirt and flashes me.

Were they nice?

I don’t know …