Shaun White isn’t worried about threats of violence at next month’s Olympic games in Sochi.
“From the last couple of Olympics that I’ve attended, I can’t remember when there wasn’t some sort of threat or some scare or something to be worried about,” the snowboard champ says.
“I’ve never felt more secure. They really take care of the athletes and the staff… there are checks and searches and all sorts of stuff… I’m bringing my whole family, if that says anything. I feel very confident that we’re going to be well looked after.”
In a media call Friday to promote his upcoming NBC special SHAUN WHITE: RUSSIA CALLING, the two-time gold medalist compared the current safety concerns to his very first trip to the Olympics in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks.
“I remember we had these very big sit-down talks about what we could and couldn’t do, and to be careful… at a certain point you gotta look past it and live your life.”
White also touched upon the controversy surrounding Russia’s treatment of LGBT people, saying it is “unfortunate” that it puts even more pressure on those athletes, but that the Olympics are special because “it brings all sorts of people together, and maybe there’s something to be learned from one another in this sense.”
Here’s more of what White had to share:
What are you most excited for this time around, and why is this experience different from past Olympics?
It’s been so much more difficult that the other times just because I’m doing double events. I’ve got full-style and half-pipe, and obviously in half-pipe I’m going for the three-peat. But full-style is interesting because I’ve actually had to do a lot of catch-up work and it’s a lot of progression in a short span of time and I’m just really doing my best to get ready. That’s why I ended up pulling out of X-Games and things like that. I really wanted to take the time and give this the right amount of training and right amount of preparation.
Are you staying in the Olympic Village, and if you are, who are you most excited to meet?
I will be attending the village for just a little bit.. In Vancouver I actually stayed in the village because it was only a 30 minute drive to the mountains. It’s a little bit harder to get up the mountains in Sochi… I haven’t really been reading up on who the hopefuls are, but I think that’s the most exciting thing for me is making friends, meeting new people that I wouldn’t have expected. I remember, I was most surprised by the US women’s hockey team because they were these cute little blondes, these normal looking little blonde girls, and you could just tell they were rugged (laughs).
Do you remember the very first time that you did a really hard move and what that felt like?
I did one today! (laughs) It was intense! It was rewarding, it was something where I was nervous going into it, I was slightly hesitant. Yet I focused… I made a decision that I was going to do the trick, and I was going to fully believe and put everything I had into it and hope for the best outcome and it went well — and sometimes it doesn’t, but then you get up and you learned a very important lesson of what not to do, and you try again.
What is some advice you give to Olympians who’ve never been there before?
I would say to just enjoy it all, enjoy being an Olympian. When I first went I didn’t know what that meant, and a lot of people still won’t know. Snowboarding is a very individual sport… then all of a sudden, you become part of a team. You’ve got a flag on your arm, the dynamic has changed. I would say from my experience, I enjoyed my second time at the Olympics far more than the first time… I really knew what was heading my way. Just to be an Olympian is being a part of history and I think that’s a special thing about this competition that you don’t get anywhere else.
SHAUN WHITE: RUSSIA CALLING airs Saturday, January 25th on NBC.