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Slope star Shaun White has chance to see rewards pile up

If he wins slopestyle and superpipe competitions, he will clinch series triumphs as well at Winter Dew Tour snowboarding and freeskiing event at Northstar-at-Tahoe.

February 20, 2009|Pete Thomas

TRUCKEE, CALIF. — Unofficial weekend forecast for Truckee: complete Whiteout.

That's because Shaun White is here to write another chapter in his remarkable biography -- and to pocket the attendant spare change.

Townsfolk point out that Truckee means "Everything is all right" in Paiute, and barring injury, White, 22, will depart Monday expressing a presumably hipper version of that sentiment.

The snowboarder from Carlsbad is here for the third and final leg of the inaugural Winter Dew Tour snowboarding and freeskiing series at Northstar-at-Tahoe resort.

If he wins today's slopestyle competition, as expected, he will earn $15,000. That would clinch the Dew Cup series triumph in slopestyle -- and reward White with another $25,000.

If he wins Sunday's superpipe competition, as expected, he will pocket another $15,000 and another $25,000 for another Dew Cup series triumph.

After that he would be named Winter Dew Cup male athlete of the year, and be doled another $15,000.

Recession? For White, operating in the red is merely the act of residing beneath a wild-looking mop of copper-colored locks.

Three weeks ago, he claimed another X Games slopestyle gold medal, and another X Games superpipe gold medal -- and another $60,000.

A year from now he will be gunning for another Olympic gold medal, to complement the one he stole with a brilliant superpipe performance at the 2006 Turin Games.

Between now and then his bank account -- thanks mostly to salaries paid by, and business endeavors he has with, corporate sponsors -- will swell by another chiefly sum, well into the millions.

In fact, Target this week announced the launch of a Shaun White 4 Target collection of clothing for boys and young men, due on shelves this fall.

Everything is all right, indeed.

But it's not always easy being the Flying Tomato, a nickname White does not embrace but will never shake.

Designing clothes with older brother Jesse -- Shaun also has a line of Burton snowboarding apparel for men and women -- and starring in commercials demands precious time away from the slopes.

White has become so large an entity that he has people who have people to make sure things run smoothly, and he sometimes employs bodyguards to make sure people he does not know do not get too pushy.

As for other elite snowboarders, they mostly just have themselves.

"He's just got his self and he's in his own world and he's doing his thing. But we all have each other," says Danny Davis, in reference to a group called Frends (there's no I in friendship). "It's really kind of sad."

But it's great for snowboarding.

Davis and best friend Kevin Pearce, inspired by each other and a desire to topple White, have ascended to a similar talent level.

Both have defeated White in major superpipe contests this winter and that Olympic discipline finally has a compelling rivalry.

Says White: "I think it's nice to have competition. And I'm so thankful those guys show up and throw their best tricks so I can see what they're doing and I can get inspired and go learn new stuff."

Davis is injured and Pearce is in Norway trying to defend his Arctic Challenge title, so the rivalry has not come to Truckee.

This, however, is all right too, as far as White is concerned.


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