White began skiing during his family’s twice-a-year trips to Mammoth, California. He wanted to start snowboarding lessons when he was 6 years old, but resort rules said he had to be 12. Instead, White and his father took a lesson to learn how to get on a snowboard.
At age 7, he won his first amateur contest. His win earned him a wild card to the national championships, where he finished 11th
White's snowboarding career cost his parents $20,000 a year, putting a financial strain on his family. During the early days of his career, the family would drive to Mammouth, a six-hour drive, every Friday in their 1964 Econoline van. The entire family would sleep in the van in place of paying for a hotel room.
White turned pro at 13.
White was considered the favorite to take gold after entering the 2006 Torino Games, where he did not disappoint. White, then 19 years old, racked up 46.8 out of 50 points in the first run of the final round by landing back-to-back 1080s followed by a pair of 900s.
White entered the Vancouver 2010 games as one of the most recognizable athletes at the games. White clinched the gold medal with his first two runs in the final with back-to-back double corks and that earned him 46.8 out of 50 points. His win boosted him from No. 51 to No. 2 on the "Bloomberg Power 100" list of the most marketable athletes in the country.
White entered the Sochi Games as a two-time defending Olympic halfpipe champion. He attempted to become the first American man to win the same event three Winter Games in a row. He was supposed to compete in both the halfpipe and slopestyle, but pulled out of slopestyle less than 24 hours before start time. He wanted to focus on the halfpipe and wanted to avoid injury. White left Sochi empty-handed after finishing fourth.
White had ankle surgery in 2016 after a training session in New Zealand. He said his ankle was bothering him for years. He had a piece of chipped bone removed.
White debuted at the U.S. Grand Prix after returning from his ankle surgery but did not qualify for the final. He had a strong showing at the Olympic Test Event later that month. White scored 95 in his best of three runs but was beaten by Australia's Scotty James by one point in the final run. White defeated James several weeks later at the U.S. Open.
Other interesting facts:
- He has an event series (Air + Style), a men's clothing line (WHT SPACE) and is part-owner of Mammoth Mountain, where he grew up riding.
- First athlete to win gold at both the Winter and Summer X Games in skateboarding.
- Won a record 18 medals, including 13 gold, at the Winter X Games, the biggest snowboarding event besides the Olympics.
- Won five X Games medals in skateboarding.
- Scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix event in January 2018.
- Attempted to qualify for the 2002 Olympics in halfpipe at the age of 15, but narrowly failed to make the team.