Though Shaun White is leaving Beijing empty handed, he has a better prize waiting back home: unwavering love from girlfriend Nina Dobrev.
"Her love and support's been incredible," the snowboarder exclusively told E! News after he placed fourth in his final run at the 2022 Winter Olympics, the last he plans to compete in. "She's just been, every step of the way, meeting me, through training, calling me, hiding notes and things in my bag, just anything to brighten my day."
Nina's big and small gestures have become one of Shaun's most treasured takeaways from the Olympics.
"She knew all of my friends and family couldn't be there and she got everyone together and made this incredible video of everyone saying how much they wish they could be there and sending their love and support," the five-time Olympian said. "I've been playing that video every day while I'm here to get pumped up and feel support from back home. So that was just so wonderful. It really set the tone for the rest of the trip."
The 35-year-old, who announced that he will officially retire from snowboarding, called his competition in Beijing a "wonderful" and "strange" experience.
"I knew this would be my last Olympics and to navigate those waters…it's been great, it's been hard," he told E!. "But it's been an amazing journey and to see the fans at the bottom and the respect and the kind words I received from my competitors was everything. It really was."
Though it wasn't the outcome he wanted, the snowboarder can't help but feel grateful for his 15-year run. "To slide into the finish area from my final run and to just kind of bow and say thank you to the sport and thanks to everybody that supported me, you know, it was wild," Shaun said. "I knew this day would come but I just, now that I'm living it, it's pretty emotional."
Sharing that moment with his peers—the people he's inspired—brought tears to his eyes.
"It was so amazing to see and hear their stories," he revealed. "One of the competitors was like, ‘I never told you this but when I first started snowboarding, I had your pro model board and your jacket that you used to ride in.' And to hear that I'd influenced them and propelled them in this trajectory and showed them the level of career that's possible within the sport."
"And people that just like, ‘Man, I wanted to beat you for so long.' You know? ‘But I respect you and I'm so honored to be here on your last dance,'" he continued. "That was very emotional and incredible and I broke down and let the emotions hang out there. I'm just so happy, I'll cherish that moment forever."
Now, as he gets ready to reunite with Nina and his family back home, the icon is looking forward to the future. As he told E!, "I can't wait to get back and see her, see my family and start this next chapter of my life."
Watch the 2022 Beijing Olympics every day on NBC and Peacock and don't miss the Closing Ceremony Sunday, Feb. 20.