Shaun White - American, 25, Snowboarding (14)
A minor faller in this year’s list but Shaun White remains the biggest name in action sports.
You need to be if you are to merrily abandon a deal with one of its biggest brands. When they chose not to renew a US$1 million a year deal with Red Bull last summer White and his agents at CAA set tongues wagging, both about his own ambitions and about the future of the energy drinks company in winter sport. Such talk might have been overstated but it gives some impression of the 25-year-old’s influence.
The irrepressible Californian remained in demand in 2011 as both sportsman and mainstream figure, moving his training base to Northstar in Lake Tahoe in a deal with Vail Resorts, launching a new advertising campaign for Stride chewing gum, and making a cameo appearance alongside Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in the romantic comedy Friends With Benefits.
A perfect 100.00 in his final SuperPipe run at January’s Winter X Games in Aspen was evidence of his enduring superiority – he now boasts a full dozen gold medals at the championships. ESPN will be counting on his exploits with snowboard and indeed skateboard when it pushes the X Games into new international host cities and markets in 2013.
Then there is the small matter of his bid to win a third straight Olympic gold at Sochi 2014. All being well, this American can be expected to provide one of the biggest stories in Russia’s first winter Games.