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Originally appeared on E! Online
These days, Shaun White is catching more than just air—he's also catching flights.
Since hanging up his snowboard after the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, the 3-time gold medalist has more than kept busy with a slew of post-retirement ventures. But these days, he's trading in the grueling training schedule for a little more spontaneity and some new scenery.
"I would get phone calls from people," Shaun exclusively told E! News of life before his retirement, "like, 'Do you want to come join us on this ski trip?' Or, you know, things that I would get hit up for, charity events or things, and I just didn't have time. And now I'm like the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man. I'm like, ‘Yeah, I'm there. Yeah, I'll do it. Bungee jump? Okay, let's go.' It's been so fun to just say yes, and to be present and be there with people."
Among the people and causes filling the 37-year-old's new chapter are girlfriend Nina Dobrev—who he noted has been "super supportive" during his transition from professional riding—and a new partnership with Park City's High West distillery to help amplify their Protect the West initiative. It's a cause close to the California native's heart.
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"I'm from the West, and I'm such a product of my environment," Shaun explained. "I mean I snowboard, I skateboard, I surf. And there's only a few places in the world you can really do that. And I think if I were from somewhere else I wouldn't have had the life that I've had. So it means a lot to me to be leaning in and doing things to protect the West."
With more downtime, and fewer competitions, the world-record holder is also finding more room for a new role in his life: mentor. A role his company Whitespace, a gear and apparel brand, has been instrumental in helping him fill.
"There's a whole other side of it that I would say is probably more rewarding," Shaun noted. "We've been getting young, talented riders on our program and giving them product, giving them guidance, being able to be kind of in their corner to guide their careers. I did it a little if people wanted my help—I was there for them. But definitely not in this type of way, where I'm really rooting for their careers and trying to help be a source of mentorship for others, which has been really, really fun."
"I've always been an ambassador for the sport," he admitted. "But it's such a new sport, we don't have the jerseys hanging from the rafters yet. I feel like I'm moving into the role of that within the sport. Even with the other riders where we were competitors, we were gunning for the same thing. And now being in the same zone with them and not being on the hunt for medals, I can really kind of connect with people and competitors in the sport in a new way."
But on whether there are any moments of doubt about his exit from the professional side of snowboarding, Shaun is just looking forward to carving his new path.
"There hasn't been that knee jerk like, ‘I have to be back,'" he confessed. "I'm just thankful to be in this headspace where I'm at in my life and career, because I feel like I've been able to do a lot of work on myself. And it's really helped me kind of step into this new chapter with a bit of grace. It's been something that has been on my mind for some time, but you never really think about it until you're crossing that bridge and go, ‘Oh wow, this is that moment this is so surreal.'"
As the Olympian put it: "To be where I'm at today and just being happy and being content with certain things, it's been such an amazing feeling."
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