“I Was Drowning”: Shaun White Recalls Nearly Dying After a Horrific Snowboarding Accident

Published 12/15/2021, 9:57 AM EST


The career of Shaun White was elevated after his gold medal victory during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. After suffering from a massive crash in New Zealand just before the Games, he qualified for the competition. Moreover, this victory cemented his legacy as one of the greats. The talented snowboarder experienced a near-fatal crash that could have been bad.

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During his time in New Zealand, he practiced for his signature half-pipe event but suffered a massive crash that led to a lot of complications. He recalled the story in a recent podcast and how he faced certain issues with his lungs.

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Shaun White remembers his horrific accident

The crash was so severe that he cut his forehead, lips, and tongue. Hence, he required 62 stitches to mend that wound. While performing a double flip 1440, he miscalculated the move and hit the bottom of the board while hitting face-first on the snow. He was then helicoptered to a nearby hospital to receive treatments for his face. On the flip side, this was not the only thing he suffered. Back home sleeping in his bed, White experience severe discomfort and felt like drowning as he recollected the events that happened.

“The only thing that was an issue was, they kinda let me off the hospital, and the whole night I felt like I was drowning. I was like what’s going on and I thought from the procedure, it might be the tube they put down or something. Then took a quick X-Ray, and my lungs were full of blood because of the impact it bruised them. So they threw me straight back at the urgent care area and I just sat there with a bucket and like getting cleared the lungs,” said White.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 14: Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States celebrates during the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Suffering from a pulmonary lung contusion, the athlete received treatment for his injury. As the doctors told him to take it slow, White wanted to win. Soon after, he started to train and the rest, as they say, is history.

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White wins gold

Heading to the competition as a favorite, White focused on his training. By already winning two Olympic gold medals, his quest for a third did not end there. As the event headed to the last round, White needed a big score. And he delivered. In his final run, he produced a score of 97.75 to take home the gold medal.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 14: Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States celebrates during the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Hence, his injury never fazed him as he performed big time. Now looking to qualify for his fifth Winter Olympics, hopes are high for the half-pipe champion. The odds are in favor of the talented athlete as White is not done yet!

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Jacob Gijy

841 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.

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