With only 14 months to go until the Winter Olympics, Shaun White's message to snowboarding fans (and maybe his competition, too): "Expect the unexpected."
It was an adage that resonated Tuesday morning when White tweeted a video of himself having his signature red locks cut off to donate to Locks of Love, a non-profit foundation that provides hairpieces for children who suffer from long-term medical conditions.
Increasingly known for his rock 'n roll lifestyle and fashion sense (he has an apparel line with Target, his own line of hardgoods, a collection of hardgoods and outerwear with Burton and has been competing the past two seasons in skin-tight leather or animal print snowboard pants), White's red mane has graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. His hair has been synonymous with his multi-sport talent since he started growing it out, circa 2004 with the release of "The White Album," which documented his upbringing and rise to fame.
"I've been thinking about this one for a while, but it's for a good cause, so I want to do it. Somebody needs it more than I do," White said in the GoPro clip released Tuesday morning. "I haven't told anyone I'm doing this. I'm just going to show up and mind-freak people. "
The 14-time X Games gold medalist and two-time Olympic gold medalist won the first superpipe contest of the season at Breckenridge, Colo., on Saturday at the Dew Tour iOn Mountain Championship with a six-hit first run that included a massive backside air, frontside double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080, frontside stale 540, double McTwist 1260 and alley-oop backside rodeo.
The run earned the 26-year-old a score of 95.25, but later, all he wanted to talk about was the double backside rodeo that eluded him on his second run and whiplashed his head onto the icy pipe wall.
"I probably didn't need that second run; I won with the first run," White said after topping runner-up Louie Vito by a comfortable margin. "But I wanted to step it up, I wanted to do the double-back rodeo, because that was something I haven't really stuck in a contest yet. For me it's annoying. I'm going to have to stick it at the next one. Otherwise, it'll make my mind melt."
As a measure of reassurance, White added: "But I'm happy."
He also said there's more to come, with the Sochi Games just a little more than a year away.
Inspired by the electricity White and the rest of the field brought to their games, Olympic organizers voted to add slopestyle to the program starting in 2014, which gives White a chance at not one, but two gold medals in Sochi.
"It's humbling. It's cool. I think it's great," he told The Associated Press on Friday. "If I can bring attention to the sport and help it along, it's exciting for me. Going back and doing a third time around in halfpipe would have been fun and exciting but not nearly as exciting as it's going to be to compete in both. It's been humbling for me to not only gain success in the sport but have the sport grow because of it."
White, coming off surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee, did not compete in slopestyle in Breckenridge, but plans on riding both disciplines in every event after this, beginning next month at X Games Aspen.
In the past, he would put slopestyle on hold while ramping up for the Olympics, because the only gold-medal possibility was in halfpipe. But he's made a comeback to the slope course this year, even winning at X Games Tignes against a stacked field in March.
"Slopestyle is a whole area I haven't even been able to get into as much recently" because of the Olympic schedule and a number of minor injuries, he said. "That's where I've got to make my biggest stand."
While he was rehabbing his knee, White bought a house near the beach in San Diego, close to one of his favorite surf spots.
Also this summer, he made news when he pulled a fire alarm at a Nashville hotel -- an episode that resulted in White being sentenced with 24 hours of community service. As part of the agreement to dismiss charges, White was required to show proof he had completed an alcohol assessment with a health care professional. He was not ordered to attend alcohol treatment.
"There's always lessons learned," he said. "I was just disappointed at the way it was relayed out. I'm not receiving treatment. There's an assessment that was done. Everyone took that as I'm out getting treatment for all these things, when it was more that they said, 'Hey, you had a mistake. Did you learn from it? OK. Cool. Move on.' So, I've moved on."
Of course, snowboarders don't sell themselves based on squeaky clean images -- not even White, who maintains something of a swashbuckler's image. So will the new 'do bring a new outlook for White?
"I'd just say to expect the unexpected," White said. "I like it when you come in and go, `Oh, what else can be done?' And then, it's my job to take it a little further every time. I've already set things in motion to try to one-up everything I've done so far."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.