Shaun White Opens Up About His Recent Accident and the Upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics

Team USA! The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, are just a few months away, and USA athlete Shaun White is ready to take on the challenge. The two-time gold medalist spoke to Us Weekly on Wednesday, November 1, about his recent accident he had while training for the games and how he’s staying focused during his recovery.

“I’m feeling good,” the snowboarder told Us about the October incident in which he took a bad crash while training in New Zealand. “Honestly, it was more of an alarming thing than anything, like any pain or any longterm injury. It’s always not the best scenario to hit your face, but it was more alarming than anything. I’ve definitely been close to something worse and I got my stitches and the doctors did an amazing job, so I’ll be back looking normal any day now.”

White says that although having his family, his girlfriend Sarah Barthel and friends around has been important for his healing, sometimes they tend to worry too much. “Everyone is alarmed by this crash, but I feel great. I’m so excited. That was the most frustrating part when I crashed, I was sitting there bleeding and all that was going through my head was how annoyed I am and how pissed off I am because I knew exactly what I did wrong,” the 31-year-old told Us. “It’s like hitting the curb when you’re trying to parallel park or something. You’re like, ‘God, I’ve done this a million times! I’m an idiot!’ That’s how I look at it.”

He added: “This is my life, this is what I do. I’ve done these tricks a million times and to do a mistake like that is just an annoyance at this point. I’m feeling great for the competition and everything is still going to plan, not exactly the plan I envisioned, but still a plan. It’s gonna work out.”

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Shaun White attends Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards 2017 at Pauley Pavilion on July 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. C Flanigan/Getty Images

While his first two experiences at the Olympics were life-changing, White revealed that the third time around — after coming in fourth place at the 2014 Winter Olympics — was a little different for him, and revealed that homesickness played a part in him losing motivation. “It just became this really tiresome thing and it’s when social media really started booming, at least in my world, and you would be on your phone and it’s a direct window into the lives of your friends and your family and that was never an issue for me,” he tells Us. “Then all of a sudden I get to see all of the birthdays I’m missing and the things that are happening at home while I’m out training and it was really hard for me to deal with.”

After the last Olympics didn’t go as planned, the athlete found comfort in skateboarding and decided to revamp his whole lifestyle. The Olympian hired a new coach, a new PR person, agency and a new manager, and started a new workout program in addition to working with a physical therapist.

“We’ve been running the same system for too long and it needed to change and with all those changes brought new inspiration and new motivation to go snowboarding,” he told Us. “They just put skateboarding into the summer games, so potentially I could, because I skateboard as well, so it would be amazing. My plan was to get through this Olympics in the winter and then switch over to skateboarding and potentially try to go to the summer games in Japan in summer 2020, and in the midst of that I’ll still be snowboarding for fun and maybe some competitions here and there, and then potentially do the China Olympics in 2022. That would definitely, I think, be my last.”

As far as his personal life goes, White has been dating Barthel since 2013, but he tells Us a proposal is not in his plans just yet. “I’m pretty happy with how things are going and I think a family is a little far out for me with so much going on, but I could see myself settling down at some point,” he said. “I’ve just been so busy and wrapped up in the sport. You get this tunnel vision honestly and it’s like, friends and family and relationships, it all gets put on the sidelines.”

He concluded: “The people that truly are the ones that last the longest in your life, are the ones that understand that and can be along for the ride and don’t really need their limelight.”

To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on Thursday, February 8.

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