Snowboard icon Shaun White says 2022 Beijing Olympics will be his last

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Shaun White will compete in his fifth and final Winter Olympic Games early next year, the snowboarding icon told the TODAY Show on Wednesday.

White, 35, still has to qualify for the competition with a third of four qualifying events held this week in Colorado. He would become the oldest male halfpipe competitor in Olympic history.

"Well I haven't really said this too much, so it's going to feel weird coming out of my mouth, but this is my last run," White told TODAY reporter Craig Melvin in an excerpt from a larger piece.

Melvin asked if "no matter what" the Beijing Games would be his last and White said, "I think so, yeah."

White calls final Olympics

COPPER MOUNTAIN, COLORADO - DECEMBER 11:  Shaun White of Team United States looks on after his final  run in the Men's Snowboard Halfpipe Final during the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort on December 11, 2021 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, COLORADO - DECEMBER 11: Shaun White of Team United States looks on after his final run in the Men's Snowboard Halfpipe Final during the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain Resort on December 11, 2021 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

White has been the face of men's snowboarding since bursting onto the Winter X Games scene in the early 2000s. He's been a staple in the sport since his first Olympic qualifier 20 years ago when he was 15.

"It's hard to talk about, you know?" White told TODAY. "Because my whole life I've kind of been looked at as somewhat superhuman because I do these things. And a lot of people have always come up to me and just [been] like, 'I don't know how he does it.' And I've prided myself on being that individual. And man, realizing and admitting to myself and everyone else, 'Yeah I'm human.' It's taken a toll."

Snowboarding made its Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Games ,and White, known as "The Flying Tomato," has been its icon for most of the sports' time. His three golds are the most by a snowboarder in history.

White missed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games by one spot in the last qualifying event. At the age of 19, he won gold in the men's halfpipe at the 2006 Turin Games, his first Olympic competition. He added gold at 2010 Vancouver and 2018 PyeongChang. He also competed at the 2014 Sochi games, finishing fourth.

Earlier this year, White teased a run at the 2026 Olympics in Italy in a conversation with the Associated Press. It appears that might be as an icon rather than a competitor.

White aiming to qualify for Olympics

The snowboarding sensation and 13-time X-Games gold medalist still needs to qualify for the Olympics to compete in a final one.

White finished eighth in the first competition of the winter Olympic season during the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado last weekend. It was the second competition after his three years off following gold at the 2018 Games. White finished fourth overall at the first qualifier in March, but the first of any American.

The top two U.S. men and women in the world halfpipe rankings, as long as they're in the top six, as of Dec. 22 qualify for the Olympics. If that does not apply, riders with the single best podium result among the four qualifying events are chosen. It goes on until there are three women and three men on the team. Discretionary selection can result in more riders, though neither gender can go past four.

The highest-ranked American male in the halfpipe rankings is Taylor Gold at ninth. White is ranked 33rd after coming into the competition at No. 70 because of his lack of competitions.

There are two qualifying events remaining. The first is the Dew Tour in Copper Mountain and the second in California next month.