Olympic Snowboarder Shaun White on His Favorite Après-ski Activity and Travel Plans in Retirement

The iconic snowboarder also shared his tips for first-time riders, his favorite places hit the slopes, and more.

<p>Courtesy of Shaun White</p>

Courtesy of Shaun White

Nothing says après-ski like a beer and a hot tub, and legendary Olympic snowboarder Shaun White couldn’t agree more.

That’s exactly how the three-time gold medalist described his perfect post-slopes moment when Travel + Leisure caught up with him at Utah’s Eagle Point Resort to talk all things travel, vacation rentals, and tips for first time riders.

“I'm always looking for something with a view,” White said when asked about the perfect mountain escape. “And then I love to have some type of water situation whether there's a lake nearby or a jacuzzi or pool at the hotel or the house. I think that's mountain culture: to go ride all day then go crack a beer and jump in the Jacuzzi.”

The “Flying Tomato,” who was in Utah to ride with the lucky winners of Vrbo’s luxury mountain giveaway, is an expert when it comes to picking a mountain escape. And since his 2022 retirement, there’s even more time to explore the best resorts around the world.

Shaun White
Shaun White

“I'm still riding a ton, I'm still working on fun little tricks and things. But there's just this huge weight of the pressure to compete has been lifted,” he told T+L. Now, when White goes out riding, he’s looking for a few specific things: “I love a good steep section, and I definitely love a fun park — I like when there’s rails and jumps. I think most mountains if you can get into the trees as well, that's the three: trees, park, and steeps.”

At Eagle Point, White expertly traversed the slopes, hopping up onto small cliffs above the trail and showing off his skills as I skied beneath him in awe. Beyond Utah, White has been spending a lot of time lately in Aspen (at each of its mountains, including Snowmass, Highlands, and Buttermilk) and at Mammoth Mountain in his home state of California, as well as jetting off to glamorous destinations like Switzerland’s St. Moritz in between (all of which have amazing Vrbo vacation rental options).

But his favorite international destination to ride in is Japan. In fact, he’s been there more than 50 times.

“I think it's the people, such a fun culture, and the mountains are just awesome,” he said. “They find themselves in this revolving almost Groundhog Day setup where you wake up — it's been snowing all night, it's sunny — you go ride and then half the day it starts to turn kind of dark again, the clouds start rolling in. It dumps snow all night and then you wake up and it's blue, it’s sunny. It's the craziest sort of revolving snow pattern. The storms come up off the water and up over the mountains and just dump, and so you get this light, incredible snow.”

Shaun White

Favorite après-ski drink?

I'm partial to either the hot toddy because you want to warm up a little or I like just a glass of whiskey, some bourbon.

Dream trip that's a non-mountain destinations?
India. Never been, it just sounds so cool.

How do you spend time on a plane?
I watch the movies, big movie guy.

Aisle or window on a plane?

Window. I hate to finally fall asleep and somebody's like, 'Hey, can I just scooch by you real quick?'

No. 1 tip for beginner snowboarders?
It's a helmet.

His new goal as of late? Explore some of the mountains he’s already been to on a more in-depth level.

“I've been joking with some people because I've been to so many resorts in the world, but I actually kind of only know how to take the run that takes me to the halfpipe,” White said. “[It's like] you've traveled the world and only seen the airport. I want to go back and re-ride all these places.”

When it comes to visiting a new mountain, White said he likes to be spontaneous, but also seeks out advice from fellow skiers and riders.

“I kinda like winging it, [but] what's fun about most resorts is you can just take the chair up with somebody and just ask them, 'hey, where would you go? What do you think?'” he said. “And everybody's so friendly and wants to [help], especially with their home mountain.”

White may be a seasoned pro, but he does have a few tips for those just starting out, including his top advice: take it slow and wear a helmet.

“You don't need to be the coolest one on the mountain day one — you're gonna look ridiculous, you're gonna be falling,” he said. “I tell a lot of people ‘go grab a pillow from the hotel and just put it down the back of the pants,’ like don't try to be a hero.

“But if you can put in a solid three to four days, I think that's a typical learning curve where you should be able to start feeling it,” he added. “And then once you clear that hurdle, it's like the whole mountain kind of opens up to you.”

While there is a learning curve, White said there are a few things boarders should never do.

“I can't stand when people just sit down in the middle of the trail… [especially] in the park. People don't really understand the etiquette of the jumps and so they'll just ride up to the takeoff of the jump and just sit down… or they sit below the landing and I can't see them,” he said. “So I'll hit the jump and someone's there in the landing and it's really scary.”

Ultimately, White said everyone should “ride in your comfort level.”

“I have so many friends that kind of just get egged on by their buddies to do something they're not ready for. Man, take your time. It's a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “Every single trick I've ever done, I've done these little tricks to build up to that and then finally conquered that big move I wanted. Take your time, wear a helmet, and just enjoy.” 

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