Shaun White is a guy who divides his time between snowboarding and skateboarding. Two different tools for riding, but both on the same structure, a vert ramp/halfpipe. He without a doubt focuses more on the ramps made of snow, but he is still a world class skateboarder. Take this past weekend for example, White won his second straight Dew Tour Skateboard Vert contest, which bumped him up to the fifth slot for the overall Dew Tour Championship. Fifth doesn’t sound that great, but when you take into consideration he didn’t skate in the first contest of year because of an injury, it sounds a lot better. Of the three Dew Tour Skateboard Vert contests this year, he has skated in two and won two. Now, it all comes down to Las Vegas, the final stop of the tour.
This isn’t about what is going down on the Dew Tour though. It is about White’s attack on vert skateboarding. We all know what he did on a snowboard this year at the Olympics. If you’ve ever watched a Winter X Games, you know how much he has dominated there as well. But what kind of force is he on a skateboard and how is this other world handling it.
Now, I’m no snowboard expert, but I’ve heard he gets some hate over in that world. You know the usual; we’re jealous because he’s better than us, has more money than us and gets more attention than us, so we’re going to make fun of him and call him a sellout. That’s fine, White probably couldn’t care less. It comes with the territory. That’s his world.
It’s when he crosses over to the other side of the tracks that things get tricky. He brings his giant media circus into a very small close knit vert skateboarding scene. It’s not that he isn’t a skateboarder, he has been skateboarding his whole life, and at a pro level for most of it. It’s just the mainstream world only knows him as this Olympic snowboard rockstar. And now they turn their attention to vert skateboarding, and only focus on White. It’s been the same five guys ruling this scene ever since Tony Hawk retired. And when Hawk was competing it was the current face of vert skateboarding fighting for second. These guys have been ruling this world for the past twenty years, and with the exception of Alex Perelson, have had little competition from the younger guys – except that is, this ginger Olympic gold medalist, who only skates half the year.
He’s about to release his own skateboarding video game, he’s always the talk of any skate contest he enters, and at the last two he has for the most part blown everyone away. Not to mention his style of vert skateboarding is a bit different, it’s almost as if he’s snowboarding on a skateboard. His amplitude and spinning ability are just untouchable, and that’s where the older guys seem to disagree with the judging a bit. He’s not a very good technical vert skateboarder, he just goes big and spins really well. If you compare one of his runs with one of Pierre Luc-Gagnon’s (PLG), you’ll see a distinct difference, a very sound technical skateboarder who mixes some of the hardest combinations of tricks into his runs verses a lofty, red-headed, spinning tornado of energy.
For the most part the vert guys don’t seem to be complaining. They seem to be welcoming him as motivation to push the sport further into the future. He has to be one of the most futuristic vert skateboarders of the past decade, even when he was younger he doing some mind blowing things on a skateboard. It’s just you can’t help but think, in the back of their minds they’re like, man why do you have to come over and steal our glory. We were dominating over here until you showed up. Or they could just be excited he’s bringing more media attention to their sport, who knows they’ll never tell.
What we do know is he is legit on a skateboard and has been for some time. And guys like PLG and Bucky Lasek are frothing to take him out. A hefty task considering the scores he is getting, and the amount by which he is winning. We’ll see in Vegas. He’s already hinted at the possibility of linking a 900 into his run. From what I see he wants to throw it in at the end of his current run. It would go something like this; back-to-back fakie-to-fakie 540s into a 720 into an armadillo (a heelflip body varial frontside 540) into a set up air and then end it with a 900. If that goes down it could be a stake through a few guys’ hearts, as well a some trips back to the drawing board because that run would be unbeatable by a long shot.
Photo: Pondella via Getty Images.