Shaun White’s love of music is well documented. The snowboarding icon, who is going for his third gold medal at this year’s Winter Olympics, which began today in South Korea, founded and has played guitar in the band Bad Things since 2012. So it should come as no surprise music is a big part of his training — but which songs?
“They keep changing,” he tells Variety in Big Bear, California at the qualifying trials for his upcoming Air + Style festival in Los Angeles. “I have a weird thing where if I play the song and I do well that’s a good sign and I keep the song in rotation. But as soon as I don’t, I just cut it. Recently it’s been Cage the Elephant’s ‘Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,’ Thin Lizzy’s ‘‘Boys Are Back In Town’ — that was playing somewhere and I crushed it — and Roxy Music ‘Love Is The Drug.’”
Asked if he’s superstitious in general, as many athletes are, he replies, “Oh, for sure. I wasn’t, but my mom is really superstitious and she started doing weird sh– and told me about it. Now I do the weird sh–!,” he laughs.
While White’s attention will be on the Olympics the next two weeks he is very much looking forward to hosting the fourth annual Air + Style in L.A. music, and sports festival, which takes place March 3-4 and will feature performances by Zedd, Phoenix and Phantogram. The latter band is fronted by his girlfriend Sarah Barthel, who White also says is a tremendous snowboarder.
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, also at Big Bear, weighed in that there’s always been a strong correlation between music and the worlds of snowboarding and skateboarding.
“I remember as a kid when Warped tour was skateboarding, BMX Motocross, it would be inspiring to go watch someone do a backflip on their dirt bike and then hop up and play 30 minutes of punk rock,” Barker says.
So, which musicians are the best skaters and snowboarders? “There are a couple of people who don’t really brag about it,” he says. “Rich the Kid is amazing and he never really talks about skateboarding, but he could pretty much hang with anyone — I’ve seen him meet kids at skate parks and play a game of skate and win. Another one that’s under the radar is Yelawolf. Both are insane.”