Every morning for the past few days, I’ve seen Shaun White as I come down for breakfast. He’s staying in the same hotel as me, presumably opting out of the athlete’s village so he can be with his family. The funny thing is, it took me a couple of days to realise it was him.
Despite being the most famous face of the winter games, when he’s wearing a tracksuit and a baseball cap, Shaun is strangely anonymous-looking. The hotel is swarming with media types, but if they’ve recognised him they’re not showing it. He mostly keeps his head down and goes about his business like an ordinary dude.
“Before that final run, Shaun had never done back-to-back 1440s. Not even in practice.”
It’s a different story when he steps out onto the slopes of course. Once Shaun pulls on that NASA suit and his trademark facemask, he can’t move for fans wanting selfies, or journalists hanging on his every word.
His image appears on the screen at the top of the halfpipe, and the noise levels at the bottom go up several notches. I’ve learned that most riders at the Olympics will get a good cheer from their compatriots, but everyone shouts for Shaun White.