“A Big Scare”: Shaun White Reveals the Constant Horrors of Heart Disease Ending His Career

Published 01/11/2022, 1:14 PM EST


From a young gun in the sport to being an Olympic champion today, Shaun White has come a long way. The astonishing snowboarder is regarded as the best in the business. Being the first person to win both the Summer and Winter X Games medals, he proved why he is worthy of the GOAT title. However, the three-time Olympic gold medalist is now preparing for his retirement, after the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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Undoubtedly, his journey to the top has not been easy. Suffering from a heart condition at a young age, White had several problems that risked his future in the sport.

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Shaun White reveals his heart condition

From birth, White suffered from a rare heart condition named Tetralogy of Fallot; a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth. It causes a poor supply of oxygen from the heart to the rest of the body. Symptoms for the same involve a bluish coloration of the skin, while some people also experience difficulty in breathing.

Notably, White had three surgeries to help his condition. A phenomenon that could have ended his snowboarding and skateboarding career, White opened up on the effect it had on him.

“I would go in and do these stress tests to see how my lungs were operating, and they would do these really demanding workouts with all these machines to monitor my heart and my breathing and my pulse.”

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 14: Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States poses during the medal ceremony for the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe Final on day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Medal Plaza on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

“That was a big scare. It was like, gosh, is this going to be the time we’re going to find something wrong and I have to quit doing all the things that I love?” said White.

Focusing on recovery, he did not let go of his dream. He worked hard on his craft and is today is regarded as the greatest snowboarder of all time.

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White set to retire

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As the qualifications for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are currently underway, White is focused on making the cut. After two decades of twists, spins, flips, and jumps, he now prepares for his last dance. However, he is yet to make it past the qualifications and book his berth for Beijing.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 14: Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States shows his emotion during the victory ceremony for 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 David Ramos/Getty Images)

White is currently battling for a fifth historic appearance, hoping to claim his fourth gold medal. Despite what the future has in store, Shaun leaves behind a legacy in the sport that generations to come will try to replicate.

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Do you think Shaun will make it to Beijing?

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Jacob Gijy

812 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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