By Paul Zitzer
When Shaun White pads up in Boston for the first stop of the 2010 Dew Tour, he'll be doing so as the most popular and highly decorated Olympic snowboarder to ever set foot on a wooden halfpipe. But does that mean we should expect to see him duplicate his snowboarding success against the world's best vertical skateboarders? Good question.
One certainty is that the press booth at the vert ramp in Boston’s TD Garden will be standing room only. And whether you're a fan of White or not, the attention matters. "Him skating vert and competing with us is going to inspire more kids to skate," says Pierre Luc Gagnon, one of the guys hoping to dice the Tomato. "Since he's such a big-time celebrity a lot of people are looking up to him, and it'll definitely help vert skating in some ways."
"Since he's such a big-time celebrity a lot of people are looking up to him and it'll definitely help vert skating in some ways." - PLG
Last year’s Dew Cup winner Bucky Lasek agrees, "I think anyone that can be a threat to the top five is good for skateboarding as far as vert goes and competing."
But can White be a threat to the top five after being strapped down to a snowboard for so long? The consensus among his peers seems to be that yes, he can. "I skated with him like a week ago," says Andy Mac. "He was looking amazing considering he hasn't skated in a year and a half. He made like a five-foot-high stalefish 540 first try. Like, 'Oh yeah, I think I remember.'"
"He was looking amazing considering he hasn't skated in a year and a half. He made like a five-foot-high stalefish 540 first try." -Andy Mac
PLG makes the argument that despite the lack of skate time, snowboarding has kept White on his toes. And it's not like he hasn't been through all of this before. He's been taking extended breaks from skateboarding ever since he was a pint-sized ripper. And as evidenced by his 2007 Dew Cup win, it's never made much of a difference in terms of what he's been able to do once he crosses back over. But of course, while White is busy relearning his old tricks, his fellow competitors are polishing the new tricks they'll be adding to their already stacked runs. So there's that.
"I think anyone that can be a threat to the top five is good for skateboarding as far as vert goes and competing." - Bucky
But regardless of who's doing what, if White manages to do what he's good at in Boston, he could be tough to beat. "Everything he does is going to be big and he's going to spin a lot," says PLG. "And the crowd loves it and the judges are going to be influenced by that and like it too." How could they not? Few approach contest runs with a more go-for-it attitude, and whatever White might lack in terms of hitting the lip or going switch, he tends to make up for with sky scraping airs and an overall wow factor.
"He's definitely a contender." - Burnquist
At this point, the four horsemen of the u-shaped apocalypse aren't in agreement about who'll be the guy to beat come Boston. Burnquist names Bucky and PLG, Bucky names PLG, PLG names Bucky, etc. But no one is writing White off. "He's definitely a contender," says Burnquist. We'll see.