Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Shaun White: Russia Calling": Olympic winter tumbler makes film about his own qualification for Sochi in 2014, and it tells a real story

Winter sports and surfing celebrity Shaun White has played executive producer for a one hour film, "Shaun White: Russia Calling", showing his preparation for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. It aired on Saturday night, January 25, at 8 PM EST on NBC.
Shaun makes real suspense out of it.  Now at age 27, will he make the Olympic team despite a sudden funk in learning new tricks that competitors do, and then an ankle sprain from and missed landing on a flip. His relationship with his trainers is endearing.
The training venues are spectacular, apparently ranging from Lake Tahoe to even Australia (the Great Diving Range, which goes to about 7000 feet, but I didn’t realize it offered major skiing).  The main snowboarding events are on a slope obstacle course (including a rail jam), as well as in a trench (or half-pipe).    

Shaun’s appearance has ripened.  He cut the long red lair and now it’s a more conventional cut.  He has a couple of popular tattoos, on one shoulder and on the inner smooth side of the opposite forearm.

He appears with some kids from St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, and mentions that he had open heart surgery as a toddler and had not been expected to become an athlete.  In fact, a very small legacy scar from the surgery is visible on some photos, such as on the cover of Rolling Stone about eight years ago.

In one scene, he plays banjo with a rock band at a charity event.  His view of deploying music is a lot more grown-up than that of, say, Justin Bieber.  
The film gets a bit close-up in showing the workouts and scenes like his lying in an ice bath for his ankle. I can’t imagine doing that.

NBC’s main link for the documentary is here

There is a report on his injury here.
Will Shaun White become a filmmaker as the years progress?  Would he still be game for the Winter Olympics in four years at 31?  This documentary necessarily avoids all the social and political controversies surrounding the venue (Russia's internal problems with security, Putin's obsession with his own power, the new anti-gay propaganda law, and so on).  If he moves into documentary film big time (something I think that he will do) he might have a lot to say later about all these. 

See also posting Feb. 17, 2010. 

Picture: Near Mammoth Lakes, CA, my own trip, May 2012.  

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