After winning the third gold medal of his Olympic career with a nearly-perfect run in the men’s snowboard halfpipe, Shaun White couldn’t help but get emotional. The 31-year-old snowboard legend dropped to his knees and began to cry when the score on his final run was revealed, once again securing him a spot at the top of the Olympic podium. After taking a moment to himself, White went to celebrate with his family and by the time he embraced them, he was sobbing uncontrollably. It was a rare public display of emotion for the ultra-chill White, so much so that his dad, Roger, admitted that it was the first time he had seen his son cry, presumably not counting when his son was a baby.
It’s not hard to understand White’s tears when you realize how much this third gold medal meant to him. White won Olympic gold medals in the men’s snowboard halfpipe in 2006 and 2010 but failed to medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The loss has haunted White for the last four years, as he worked tirelessly to re-establish himself as the world’s best.
Then last October, just as White seemed destined for a huge Olympic comeback, he crashed during a training run in Australia and had to get 62 stitches on his head, face, and tongue. It was a major setback. But one that would not keep him down long. Just months later, White overcame the horrific injury to show the world why he’s widely considered the greatest snowboarder that ever lived.
And as is often the case, amazing Olympic athletes are supported by amazing Olympic parents. Just look at the sacrifices Chloe Kim’s dad has made for her. White’s parents are no different. According to White, Cathy and Roger spent tens of thousands of dollars to support his snowboarding dreams, despite the fact that these working-class parents often could barely afford it. In fact, when Roger and Cathy would take White and his two siblings to the mountains to snowboard, they would have the family stay in a van because they couldn’t pay to stay in a hotel. Fortunately, their sacrifices and dedication have paid off, as they once again celebrated with their gold medal-winning son.