Snowboard Legend Shaun White on Qualifying for Fifth Olympics: I'm Giving 'Everything I've Got'

Shaun White opens about his journey to compete in his fifth Olympic Games in Beijing next month

Shaun White was back at home in L.A. after the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics when he opted to take what he refers to as a "huge detour." Instead of snowboarding, the 35-year-old athlete decided he would focus all his energy on skateboarding, with an eye on qualifying for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

"I got fired up to switch gears and started skateboarding every day," White tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. But the pandemic — along with his passion for snowboarding — derailed those plans.

"So I switched gears again and decided to put the focus back on snowboarding," he says of aiming for his fifth Olympics. "It's been a whirlwind, but I'm going to give it everything I have and see where the cards end up."

White knows that the road ahead of him on his way to the upcoming 2022 Winter Games in Bejing could be bumpy — even with three Olympic gold medals under his belt.

Shaun White of the United States poses during the victory ceremony for the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Final
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Weeks after contracting COVID in late December, he pulled out of the finals of the Olympic qualifier event on Jan. 8 at California's Mammoth Mountain Ski Area due to an ankle issue.

But then again, he is Shaun White. And even though he now often finds himself competing against athletes half his age, none of his competitors can come close to touching his achievements, which include winning more Olympic and X Games gold medals than any snowboarder.

For more on Shaun White, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE.

"I still feel amazing and my heart is still in it, even if the tricks are getting a lot harder," says White on a recent afternoon at the L.A. home he shares with actress Nina Dobrev, 32, who he began dating in 2019. "But I definitely feel like these games will probably be my last."

With just weeks to go until the Bejing Olympics kick off on Feb. 3, White has put his various business ventures — he's a brand ambassador for Krave Jerky, along with a part-owner of Mammoth Resorts, the ski area where he learned to shred — on hold to focus on Beijing.

Nina Dobrev
Shaun White and Nina Dobrev. Nina Dobrev/INSTAGRAM

But that hasn't stopped the snowboarding superstar from launching his new active lifestyle brand (featuring snowboards and outerwear), known as Whitespace, on Jan. 13.

"I always ask myself, 'Is it something that's authentic to me?' And that's what led me to get personally involved in all these things," says White, who is aiming to ride one of his new Whitespace boards in the upcoming Olympics.

Now all he needs to do is make the final cut for the U.S. team, which won't be announced until Jan. 21. "I'm just going to keep pushing on the gas until we get to the Olympics and give it my all," he says. "Then I'm going to readjust, refocus and see what's next."

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning Feb 3, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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