Tuesday, May 13, 2003
A day with Shaun White
By Allison Glock Photos by Patrik Giardino EXPN.com / ESPN The Magazine
Editor's Note: Shaun White, 16, pulled his bandana over his nose and, with a hearty "Aargh, Matey," won Snowboard Superpipe and Slopestyle at the '03 Winter X Games in January. This week, he's in Whistler to ride for the U.S. at the first Global Championships. Tucked between these snow events, Shaun entered his first pro skateboarding contest, finishing fourth in Vert at the Slam City Jam May 2-4 and qualifying for the X Games in Skateboard Vert. We spent a day with Shaun midway through his snow-skate-snow-skate transition.
Shaun ... Wake up!
Volcom ... Coming to a Target near you?
9 a.m. Shaun is joggled awake by his mother Cathy. "You have a photo shoot, remember?"
"I'm not so good with mornings," Shaun whines as he drags himself to the bathroom.
10 a.m The photographer arrives and sets up shop in Shaun's bedroom. Shaun exits the bathroom, showered, to find a room full of strangers. He ducks in, grabs a T-shirt, Volcom shorts and a pair of boxers and returns to the bathroom.
11 a.m. Shaun sits on the living room sofa eating a muffin out of the wrapper and watching Sponge Bob Square Pants. He does not laugh. "Did I mention I'm not so good with mornings?"
12 p.m. Mom makes Shaun an egg sandwich on white bread. He finishes his lunch and puts his milk glass in the sink. "Shaun is still a normal boy," says mom. "He's not some superstar. He has to clean his room and pull weeds."
1 p.m. Shaun is jumping repeatedly off the top steps leading to the second floor of his house. Cameras flash. Mom winces each time he lands, rattling the furniture. "More! More!" shouts the photographer. "What are you, a model?" jokes mom. "Do blue steel." Shaun pretends not to hear her.
Shaun contemplates dropping in on his second pro career.
2 p.m. Shaun is posing with his snowboards on the deck. "Which board should I use, mom?" he asks. Before she can answer, Shaun selects the board of friend and fellow Burton team rider Jeff Anderson, who died this year in an accident in Japan. The photographer asks, "Are there posters of you hanging in people's rooms?"
"Like Farrah Fawcett?"
3 p.m. Shaun drives to lunch at Juanitas, a Mexican dive in his hometown of Carlsbad, Calif. "I need the driving practice because I have to get my license soon. I'm really nervous." Shaun arrives and orders two Carne Asada soft tacos and water.
A man walks in behind him with a foot-long raccoon-tail key chain. Shaun laughs. "Whoa," he says. "Maybe he's afraid of losing it." A little towheaded boy pounds on the glass outside Shaun's booth. Shaun pounds back and waves. The boy grins. Shaun grins. The raccoon keychain man grins. Juanita does not grin. "Watch the glass," she mutters.
4 p.m. Shaun is on the freeway headed to the Encinitas YMCA Skate Park. He makes a questionable merge and mom grabs the passenger door. Shaun ignores her and continues talking.
"When I started skating this year I didn't even have my own pads. I'd wear ones from the park and it was sketchy, you know. They'd be all dripping with sweat, but I was so excited to skate I didn't care." Shaun's new pads rattle around in the back of the car. They are also damp. "At least it's my own funk," he says.
5 p.m. Shaun skates the vert ramp with his best friend Rob, who has just come from having his braces tightened. Shaun and Rob bounce around like ball bearings. "He's really good," Shaun says of Rob. "Better than you," Rob retorts.
6 p.m. Shaun heads home to surf. "For awhile there I would surf in the morning, skate all day, then surf again at the end of the day. It was pretty hectic."
The Tomato Pirate flies his colors.
7 p.m. Shaun eats takeout pizza at home with his family -- mom, dad Rodger, brother Jesse, sister Kari, Kari's boyfriend and Rob. Also in attendance is Shaun's IMG agent Mark Ervin. Shaun eats all the cheese off his slices and throws away the bread.
The giant rear-projection television -- a gift from Sony -- blares Seinfeld. Everyone laughs at Kramer. The room is noisy and cheerful. Several cell phones ring and are ignored. "I call the family the tsunami," says Ervin. Mom calls the family "boring." Shaun and Jesse start wrestling. Rob jumps on top.
8 p.m. Someone throws on a snowboarding video. All the kids watch. The room grows quiet. "Rad," Shaun says.
9 p.m. Shaun's back on the couch. "These last couple years have been really cool because I just kind of realized that I can do this for a living.
I look at people who have to report to a boss or go to an office. My job is to go snowboarding, have fun, be in a photo shoot, hang out. I love it. I'm so fortunate. The only downside is it's cold."
10 p.m. Shaun is still on the couch.
11 p.m. Shaun remembers something. "I didn't get to go to sixth grade camp." He sighs. "It's my only regret. All my friends came back from it and said it was the worst time ever and I thought man, I wish I had been there."
12 a.m. Shaun finally schleps off to bed. "It's been a great day," he says. "I have a great life."