Though Shaun White will never compete in snowboarding’s newest Olympic event, he could have a hand in deciding who does.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is interested in turning his Air & Style series into an Olympic qualifier for the Big Air competition, which makes its Olympic debut in 2018 in South Korea.
White’s tour returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 18-19. It will mix snowboarders soaring 16 stories high off the big-air ramp with the music from about 20 bands including Major Lazer and Flume. Other stops in the series are in Beijing and Innsbruck.
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White says he has had preliminary talks with Olympic organizers about turning the tour into a qualifier for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, and he hasn’t ruled anything out for 2018.
”There are discussions about trying to do something in the future, hopefully in the near future,” White said.
Among those committed for Los Angeles are Canadians Mark McMorris and Max Parrot, who have won four of the last five Winter X Games Big Air contests.
The Air & Style contests in Beijing have been held at the Bird’s Nest, where it will also be for the 2022 Olympics.
In Los Angeles, Air & Style takes place at Expo Park outside the L.A. Coliseum. White took over this franchise in hopes of creating something that doesn’t look like your everyday snowboard contest. He said taking the event away from the mountain gives spectators a better perspective on how high the riders are really jumping.
”You see the scale of how big that jump is, it’s right in your face,” he said. ”You should see people’s faces when they land. They’re standing right there. It’d be like standing on the field at a football game.”