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Shaun White, Utah’s High West Distillery team up to protect snowy winters in western US


Olympic snowboarder Shaun White is giving back to the environment that has given him the world.

In partnership with Park City, Utah’s High West Distillery, White has committed to helping to preserve America’s western landscape with several projects.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, the Olympic gold medalist talked about protecting America’s land and wildlife — a cause close to his heart.

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High West Distillery has publicized its Protect the West initiative, which aims to raise $1 million for several organizations to “keep the West wild” over the next three years.

“Our scenic patch of the West and others like it are in trouble,” High West wrote on its website.

shaun white thumb

Shaun White, Olympic snowboarder, said of his partnership with High West, “For me, selfishly, it’s to protect my sport and my winters and all that. But obviously, the bigger global impact is much more beneficial.” (High West Distillery)

“Wildfires have grown increasingly destructive and persistent. Winters are getting shorter and less snow-filled. Wildlife are finding their habitats becoming more and more difficult to survive.”

White specified that High West’s Protect the West project “means a lot” to him, since he’s a West Coast kid who grew up snowboarding in Big Bear, California.

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“I’m really a product of my environment,” he said. “I was able to go to the beach. I was able to go to the skate park. The mountains were close by.”

He added, “And all those sports really jumped out at me at a young age, and being able to use the outdoors kind of shaped who I am today.” 

White noted that what he loves about partnering with High West is the opportunity to “come together and not only enjoy some whiskey, but also do some good.”

Shaun White

Professional snowboarder and California native Shaun White (pictured in both images) has earned three Olympic gold medals. (High West Distillery/Cole Ferguson)

The duo announced their pledge of $100,000 to Protect Our Winters (POW), a foundation that helps outdoorsy individuals protect their environments to ensure snowy winters for future generations.

POW was founded by snowboarder Jeremy Jones, whom White considers a “legend in our sport.”

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“The winters are changing dramatically,” said White. “And if you’re in it like I am, you see the shift in the seasons, you see the lack of snow, or the over-allocation of snow in certain places and less in others … It’s really great to be working with an organization like [POW],” he added. 

“It’s been really fun to be a voice for them and be a conduit to get their message across to my fan base and beyond.”

high west bottle

High West has pledged $1 million to various organizations that advocate for wildlife preservation in the American West. (High West Distillery)

White emphasized that we, as humans, only have “one planet” and that the “odds are stacked against us” regarding how the landscape is changing.

“Any step in the right direction is a great step,” he said. “And this is definitely [a step] I’m proud to be a part of.”

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He went on, “My whole career is based on it snowing and my ability to use that snow and excel in my sport. It’s definitely a big deal to spread the word and lean into these programs that help the environment in any way we can.”

The newly retired snowboarder revealed that he won’t be slowing down on the slopes this winter, as he has plans to visit snowy destinations within the U.S. and outside the U.S. 

Shaun White and High West Distillery

White said the highlight of working with High West is the opportunity to “come together and not only enjoy some whiskey, but also do some good.” (High West Distillery)

“Nowadays, I’m finding the simple joys of just riding with friends and exploring the mountain,” he said.

“I’m excited to go back and … explore the terrain and enjoy all these places without being in a stressed state of pre-competition.”

White also said he will enjoy plenty of après-ski with High West whiskey.

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He joked that he’s already been spotted at High West’s renowned saloon, which he plans to revisit while “mountain hopping” with his girlfriend and “Vampire Diaries” actress Nina Dobrev.

High West saloon

The High West Saloon is pictured in Park City, Utah. (High West Distillery)

White recently launched snowboarding gear brand Whitespace, which he said has been “really fun” as he tests and develops new products as a professional.

The snowboarder also mentioned his newfound outreach to supply young and up-and-coming riders with quality equipment to “help guide their careers.”

“That happened to me when I was 7 years old; I was linked with a sponsor and that really helped,” he said. “It’s an expensive sport with the gear and the lift tickets and whatnot.” 

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“To give these athletes a helping hand and some guidance in the beginning, as I received, has been really fun,” White said — adding that he’s come “full circle.”

“To turn and look at these other athletes has been really rewarding,” he said.

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