Note: some of the quotes are excerpts from the AT&T Original Series “Undeniable” on the Audience Network. Season Five premiers May 29, 2018
Undeniable – un·de·ni·a·ble – adjective – unable to be denied or disputed
As the fifth Season of the AT&T original series “Undeniable” nears its’ premier, you will find the legendary Joe Buck sit down in the first episode with as stated “Undeniable” Shaun White.
Never a more fitting definition to a word than the third and final run of Shaun White in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. After falling on run two of three, and watching Ayumu Hirano stomp his run to move into first, White stood in the starting gates looking down at the Superpipe knowing it was go big and stomp it or go home without the gold.
In baseball terms, bottom of the ninth, two outs, down three needing the grand slam.
For the first time in his life, White landed back-to-back 1440s, a maneuver that requires four full aerial revolutions, to help secure the win. White had never even practiced this combo, it was deemed too dangerous. But Hirano had pulled it off in his second run, impressing the judges. White knew he needed it in order to win. The victory made White the first snowboarder in history to win three Olympic golds, and on top of that the 100th Gold Medal for Team USA in the Winter Olympics, how fitting.
Shaun White is by definition UNDENIABLE.
BNQT Senior Editor Tyler Tate spoke to “Undeniable” host Joe Buck as well as White to bring you deeper into what makes this episode so unique.
“When I found out that he (White) was going to be a guest on the show, I was pumped to say the least,” said Buck. “When I think about all of the other legends and icons that have sat in the opposing chair, it’s unique to have someone who is ‘Undeniable’ while still being an active part of their sport. Shaun is transcendent in the sport and I believe universally appreciated for his contributions in the past and the present, and I cannot wait to see what he contributes in the future. Many who sit in the chair across from me on the show have retired and have had a lot of time to reflect on their career. Shaun is still in his career, yet he stands alone at the top of his field in so many ways. I was all in to learn about him.”
“You’re only thirty and you’re already Undeniable, it’s mind blowing.” – Joe Buck – Undeniable
An athlete is more than just the sport he or she participates in. An athlete is a human first with a talent that they have dedicated their lives to perfecting through sacrifice and hard work.
“Undeniable” as a show allows you a chance of discovery both about the athlete and maybe something about yourself in the stories they tell.
“This season is full of top tier athletes with amazing stories to tell,” said Buck. “What makes the guests that we have had on the show even more special than the accomplishments on the field, it’s their bravery in being open and honest in speaking about the off field lessons and trials that they have experienced. Connecting on a more human level allows for the community to grow and a respect among piers, even when that relationship is sports fan to athlete.”
Within the flow of action sports, is a story. When a skateboarder, snowboarder, skier, etc… take to the course, they have a story to show the audience and the judges. They speak through their riding as they flow around performing the tricks that they have mastered. There is a beginning a middle and an end. This story is judged, sharing those stories is what we as fans fall in love with.
“There is something unique about the action sports community,” said Buck. “In many ways it’s a massive community that revolves around a solitary athlete. There is no ‘team’ in action sports competition, only a team that stands behind them. Former guests on Undeniable include Tony Hawk and Kelly Slater and now Shaun (White). With each of them, the discovery of repetition and the risk of serious injury is a common theme, but what supersedes this risk level is the drive to success that each of the athletes share. Im not young, but I am not ‘Get Off My Lawn’ old either, but I know that there are some people older than me that see this athletes and what they do and minimize it stating thats it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just a skateboard. But when you get into it, you discover the hours, the creativity and the athletic ability and that is when their story becomes universal. That is when it becomes something everyone can relate to. I think back to the times that I tried to ride a skateboard when I was young, I was terrible. Conversely you look at athletes like Shaun and more who have to be dragged out of the skate park by family members to go home and eat because their life is consumed by progressing their talent.”
“It was my older brother Jesse who introduced skateboarding to me. I would tag along with him to the skatepark where several legendary pros skated there, including Tony Hawk” – Shaun White – Undeniable
In the season premier of Undeniable in May 29, 2018, you will discover more about White. Did you know that before he was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, multiple summer and winter X Games gold medalist, White had multiple heart surgeries as a child, sketched his snowboarding runs on hotel napkins and won a car before he was old enough to drive? Did you also know that he was almost a skier?
“I was supposed to be a more inactive child with a sluggish heart. Immediately I was the crazy one. I was the reason my parents would say ‘We can’t have nice things.” – Shaun White – Undeniable
“In between when we taped the show and when it will air, he won again,” said Buck. “Part of me wishes that I could ask him some of the questions again to see what would be different after the season he had and the emotions of how the Olympics played out. What is special about interviewing an athlete who is still active is that their perspective is fresh but it’s evolving. Rather than a reflection of the past, they are dreaming of the future. In my day job as a broadcaster, the athletes I speak to, are in the moment as they are about to step on the field. You can see the fire is still lit. You can see that in Shaun. Not only is it lit but it’s raging.”
White however states that even after the season and through the Olympic journey, that he “wouldn’t change any of his answers.”
“For me, the journey of my career has always been influenced by the choices I made as a child on what I felt was important and what I deemed as a success,” said White. “To have another gold medal is amazing but it doesn’t change who I have grown into as a person. The values you want to have be a part of your life makes you who you are, not the accomplishments you have throughout the lifetime.”
Buck, if he could ask that one follow up question would want to know if he (White) surprised himself.
“I got the sense that if he had won again that it would be the sweetest of them all. In many ways White is the victim of his own success. Tricks that used to win White the gold, are now standard runs for the new generation of riders. He has had to push himself to first evolve the sport then find a way to evolve himself. In many ways he is like Tiger Woods. There was a time he was feared as a golfer but now he does not intimidate anyone anymore. For Shaun, he had the mantle of the sport on his shoulders as he made snowboarding a primetime sport in the Olympics. As he has gotten older that responsibility has been spread out among himself and his peers but now he faces the challenge of his peers being equals and his has to continue to find a way to stay on top. That discovery of personal growth to stay on top is what makes Shaun the ‘Undeniable’ icon that he is. Snowboarding is not standing in right field playing baseball. This is strapping into a board and throwing yourself into the air doing tricks that makes people’s jaws drop. I think he surprised himself in some ways. Thats probably a feeling that he expected, and possibly why he was so emotional when he won. He has gone through so much through his career and he has such a flair for the dramatic. This was all a dream in the beginning as the family began this journey and to have another part of the dream realized all as a family once again in the Olympics, it’s no surprise why there was so much emotion. Shaun is a guy you want to get to know. He is a guy that has such a unique take on things, he’s smart, well spoken, interesting and he realizes the position he is in within the sport and I loved every minute I had sitting across from him, and I know the audience watching the season premier will as well.”
White is the only person to double gold medal in a summer and winter X Games as well as Dew Tour. In 2020, White will have the opportunity to again add another solo legacy moment being the able to be a summer and winter Olympic medalist in skateboarding in the 2020 Tokyo Summer games.
“Skateboarding in the summer Olympics after coming off the winter Olympics gold in Korea would be incredible,” said White. “To do both the summer and the winter olympics is something that I have always dreamed of, and in many ways I feel fortunate that the opportunity to pursue that dream is happening in my lifetime while I am still able to do so. While I have made it ‘official’ that I will be there, I am going to take my time over the summer to evaluate where I stack up against the other skaters and enter a few contests here and there and see where it goes. This is not a retirement from snowboarding, it is just an addition to my life to fulfill those lifelong goals.”
For Buck, a self admitted action sports outsider, he views the possibility of a summer and winter gold medalist as an industry changer, but more about the person.
“For someone who can pursue excellence in multiple arenas, and accomplish winning a gold medal in two different sports and in two different Olympics, summer and winter, that speaks more to the person than anything else,” said Buck. “Action Sports are as individual of a sport as you can get. Yes there is a family and ‘team’ around him, but at the end of the day, they are not the one competing. Shaun is coming off the ultimate mic drop at the winter games and now he turns his focus to other things while staying active in snowboarding. He is the Jordan or the Gretzky of his sport. There is always the question of leaving to early or run the risk of staying to long. Like I said, this is not stumbling around center field trying to catch a ball. This is high risk sport. He continues to impress and on the course and off the course in life. For a thousand reasons after getting to know him, I hope he delivers.”
When asked who he would pick next from the action sports community to interview on “Undeniable”, Buck couldn’t pick just one.
“What makes ‘Undeniable’ guests special is their comfort within themselves to sit out in that chair and be honest. Kelly Slater was not required to openly talk about his thoughts of suicide. Some athletes are not that open or honest. Action Sports athletes have an interesting story to tell and what you see in person is what you get. The joy for me in this is learning about other sports and since I am not around the action sports community often, to learn about the sports through the eyes of the athletes is amazing and that is what the audience can take from this show, the discovery of something new.”
Be sure to tune in May 29, 2018 to Audience Network for the AT&T Original Series as Shaun White is the season five premier,
“He is first up for a reason,” said Buck.
So we ask you, since Joe couldn’t pick an athlete to have next, who would you pick?