White acquires majority stake in Air & Style
Shaun White, who is in the middle of qualifying season for both halfpipe and slopestyle in next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, announced on Monday that he had acquired a majority share in Air & Style, the Austrian-based snowboarding and music festival series.
“I'm excited at the opportunity to shift from athlete to host and work on expanding the reach of the event while adding a little more flavor with some of my favorite bands and musicians," White said in a statement on Monday, the day after both the slopestyle and halfpipe competitions got cancelled over the weekend at the U.S. Grand Prix in Breckenridge, Colo., a U.S. Olympic team selection event for Sochi. White is aiming for his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe and also hoping to compete in the Olympic debut of snowboard slopestyle.
White teased the Air & Style purchase in a New York Times profile on Sunday, calling it a "long-term play" as part of his strategy to develop "fuller relationships" with his sponsors and partners.
Air & Style opened its 20th anniversary year in December with Air & Style Beijing 2013, a 6star-rated Big Air event on the World Snowboard Tour that was won by Swedish rider Sven Thorgren. White had previously been a title sponsor of that event, billed as "Oakley and Shaun White present Air & Style Beijing." According to Monday's statement, Air & Style now has events planned in Europe, China, and the United States in the coming year. The 2014/15 schedule will be released in the spring, according to a TTR Pro Snowboarding spokesperson. The Beijing event is the only stop currently scheduled on the 2013/14 tour.
“After 20 years of Air & Style I am very happy to make the next big step together with my friend Shaun.” said Air & Style founder Andrew Hourmont, in a statement about the deal. Hourmont will stay on as CEO from Air & Style's headquarters in Innsbruck, Austria. “We share a common vision of bringing snowboarding, music and lifestyle to the world´s youth," he said. "I could not imagine a better partner for growing Air & Style and the sport in total.”
Speaking of music and lifestyle, it's been a big week for White. On Thursday he announced that his band Bad Things is releasing a self-titled debut album on January 21, just after the U.S. Olympic team selection announcement -- White is a favorite to make the team for both halfpipe and slopestyle, but hasn't secured either yet as he heads into the final two selection events next week at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. – and just before X Games Aspen 2014, where he's on track for an unprecedented seventh consecutive gold medal in the halfpipe.