SOURCE: Red Bull

Red Bull

February 01, 2010 13:45 ET

Snowboarder Shaun White Invents New Tricks to Stay Ahead of Competition

SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - February 1, 2010) - Shaun White has transcended action sports to become one of the most accomplished sports stars in the world today. An X Games double threat with medals in both snowboarding and skateboarding, as well as a gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics, Shaun possesses insane skills and instantly-identifiable looks. That amazing combination has made him one of the most recognizable sports icons of his time, and at 23, he's only getting started.

So how does an athlete at the top of his game continue to evolve and dominate? Long days and nights spent traveling to contests and filming adventures have filled Shaun's head with "someday" tricks, moves he believes are possible but he has yet to try... if only all the optimal conditions were able to line up...

In the Spring of 2009, Shaun came to Red Bull with the idea to create a place where he could finally make his dream tricks a reality. A private halfpipe in a remote location, where he could ride free of the day-to-day distractions he's typically bombarded with. A place where he could invent new tricks, take his riding to another level, and drive the progression that the sport thrives on. The idea caught fire, and Red Bull Project X was born.

On a remote, backcountry part of Silverton Mountain in Southwestern Colorado, a 22-foot tall superpipe was erected at the convergence of eight different avalanche chutes. The avalanche debris served as the building blocks of its 550 foot-long walls, accented with a huge, 600 square-foot foam pit at the bottom of the pipe. Built at over 11,000 feet of elevation, Red Bull Project X was a first-of-its-kind training facility, and halfpipe snowboarding will never be the same because of it.

The presence of the first-ever on-mountain foam pit allowed for something totally new and unique: it gave Shaun the ability to make mistakes. To try and to fail. To test the limits by reducing the risk -- and setback -- of injury. It was the defining part of the project, as it put Shaun into a new state of mind. He crossed a mental boundary and was able to unlock the details of a trick key to snowboarding's next frontier: the double cork (a trick that involves two off-axis flips).

After adjusting to the nuances of airing into the foam pit, Shaun immediately set to the task of learning the first trick on his wish list: the frontside double cork 1080. With the resources available at Red Bull Project X, it took him all of one day to nail it. "It's unreal," he said later. "We probably got a couple of years of riding squeezed into one day."

Settling into a routine of selecting a new trick and working out the execution of body twists and momentum tweaks into the foam before attempting it in the pipe, Shaun was able to add switch backside 900s, double backside rodeos, Cab double cork 1080s and double McTwists in a fraction of the time they would have taken to learn anywhere else. More importantly, he had been given the opportunity and the facility to link the tricks together flawlessly, opening the door for brand-new, innovative contest runs that force competitors to keep the competition on their toes for this season.

Armed with his expanded bag of tricks, Shaun emerged at the Burton New Zealand Open in August '09 with back-to-back double cork variations, sealing the victory.

Red Bull Project X was more than just a training facility, it was a statement to the snowboard world that Shaun was ready for the pivotal 2009/10 season and was going to make his mark not only on this year's events, but on the sport itself.

"I think some people have questioned whether Shaun has been an innovator in his career up until now," said Bud Keene, the U.S. Olympic Snowboard coach that was with Shaun in Torino. "He certainly has done anything that anyone has ever done, and done it bigger and better than it had ever been done before. But an innovator? Not until now! Now, he is pushing the sport further and faster than it has ever been pushed, and it looks great!"

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Fun Facts about Red Bull Project X:

11,400: Feet above sea level the halfpipe was built.

30: Avalanches created by dropping dynamite to collect the snow and build the halfpipe.

250,000: Cubic yards of snow moved to make the halfpipe.

34: Hours Shaun spent in the pipe developing new tricks never seen before.

300: Number of man hours to build the foam pit.

7,200: Number of foam blocks it took to fill the foam pit.

525: Number of inches of snowfall last winter at Silverton Mountain.

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