An Interview With Shaun White
A New Brand From The G.O.A.T. Of The Halfpipe
Shaun White didn’t become the G.O.A.T. through raw talent or relentless training alone. It takes a certain mindset to drown out the doubts, commit to the goal, and send it—again and again, across decades and generations.
It isn’t only professional athletes like Shaun who can relate to the headspace of the send. Anyone who’s dropped into a hairy line, pushed their limits on a mountain bike, powered through the crux, or braved a new outdoor pursuit can relate.
This mindset is the inspiration behind Whitespace, a new brand produced by Shaun himself, available exclusively at Backcountry. The name Whitespace references not only Shaun’s name, but the uncluttered headspace it takes to be the G.O.A.T. Today, January 13, marks the official launch with the first big drop: Shaun’s signature board that he plans to ride in Beijing.
Harnessing Shaun’s insights, this board dominates the halfpipe and each one is laser-etched with its unique number and signed by Shaun. The 25 Freestyle Shaun White Pro Snowboards already sold out (Expedition Perks members got first dibs—join now for early access to future drops from Shaun).
Ahead of the 2022 Winter Games, we sat down with Shaun to get his vision for the brand and find out how he dreamt up the board he plans to ride in Beijing.
Backcountry: What’s your vision for your new brand?
Shaun White: It’s really exciting to start a brand and imagine where things can go. I’ve been a professional athlete for 20 years and I want to bring all that knowledge and experience I’ve gained together in one place. Growing up in the skateboarding and snowboarding worlds, we have a really unique vision for sports. There is a mainstream box around what athletes should look like, be like, and especially what sports are acceptable. I’m hoping we can break that down.
How did you come up with the name Whitespace and what does it mean to you?
I love Whitespace because it’s such a simple concept that can be described in so many different ways. For me, it’s about clearing my headspace to create. My whole life, I’ve been looking for new ways to be better and a lot of that comes from being able to remove the clutter and focus on my own path. In design, whitespace is about creating clarity and making things stand out through the use of space … a less-is-more approach, which I really gravitate towards.
“This line will have a unique style, but also be focused on making snowboarding enjoyable. Like if you combined a Tesla with a Cadillac.”
Why did you choose Backcountry as the exclusive retailer?
What makes Backcountry such an amazing partner is that we are both passionate about our fans and community. I feel so lucky I’ve been able to make snowboarding my career and am thankful for all the fans that have been there with me. Backcountry has the same philosophy, so when we design products together, we are focused on making the best experience for the customer.
Tell us about how you dreamt up your board. Which insights from riding were key?
Last year, I was riding a board with just a blank base graphic. I thought it would be cool to have a bold black and white stripe down the middle. Just something that would pop. I loved it and when this opportunity came along I knew that was the first thing we needed to have in the line.
I’ve spent a huge part of my career riding resorts, so I put a lot of my insights into a collection that rips at the hill. I wanted to make a quiver of boards that are a blast to ride, but also, don’t feel too specialized.
The Powder board, for example [forthcoming Winter ‘22/’23]—I’ve had way more powder days at resorts than in the backcountry, so we made a board that can go from a groomed run to tight trees and not sacrifice performance. We made a big nose, directional shape, and cambered flex to handle it all.
How did you come up with the top sheet?
We wanted to make something that was different. We put these big blocks of black and white where the bindings go, which I think are rad. They disrupt the graphics without looking crazy. Love how the stripes look under my bindings. Hopefully, when people see them in real life, they will be stoked.
What is the headspace you’re in when you’re about to drop into the halfpipe in competition?
Every rider knows that feeling of having a trick on lock, something that you can just do in your sleep. That is what I try to get to when I drop into a competition. I’ve practiced my run enough to not have to think about what I’m doing. I just need to drop in and let my body do what it needs to do.
“There is a mainstream box around what athletes should look like, be like, and especially what sports are acceptable.
I’m hoping we can break that down.”
What influences your sense of style? How will this aesthetic come through in your brand?
My style always evolves. I definitely had my rocker phase and now I’ve been influenced by a much more performance vibe. This line will have a unique style, but also be focused on making snowboarding enjoyable. Like if you combined a Tesla with a Cadillac.
Each product we make is about solving a problem or adding a new feature that is going to make the overall experience better. For example, we are working on a weekend tote that I’ve been dreaming about for snowboarding. I can’t stand duffel bags—they are a pain to load and I just want all my gear easy and quick to grab. So we made this tote that fits all your gear and has separate storage for wet boots. Plus, you can convert it into a backpack.
You’ve said that you think this will be your last go with the Games. Where do you see life taking you next?
Not sure, but I do know that I can’t wait to go snowboarding. I love riding so much and I’m excited to ride without focusing on competition. It’s going to be a different world for me, but I’m looking forward to all the new adventures that are coming.
“ … it’s about clearing my headspace to create. My whole life, I’ve been looking for new ways to be better and a lot of that comes from being able to remove the clutter and focus on my own path.”