Snowboard icon Shaun White shows his class as he helps his physio through cancer

Legendary snowboarder White and Dr Esther Lee both admit they most likely would not have made it to the 2022 Winter Olympics without each others’ help

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Shaun White is a Winter Olympics legend – not only for his immense skill on a snowboard, but also for his longevity as he came to Beijing, aged 35, in search of a fourth halfpipe gold.

Add to that list his humanity and friendship – qualities for which his long-time physio Dr Esther Lee will be forever grateful.

She played an integral part in helping make sure White was in peak condition and still able to compete alongside the youngsters who are tearing up the snowboarding scene in 2022.

And their partnership has proven to be mutually beneficial, as White has been a rock for the doctor in her fight against cancer.

“In July 2020, I got diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer,” Lee told “And it was a shock, I mean, I grew up my whole life feeling like this very healthy athletic person.

“I was like, oh my God, I think I might have weeks to live because my grandmother had pancreatic cancer and she died two weeks later.

Shaun White with physio Dr Esther Lee after completing his event at the 2022 Winter Olympics



“Shaun was one of the first people I called… I’ll always remember I was standing in this field and he was like, ‘did you get Covid?’ And I was like, well no, actually, I got cancer… and we just sat on the phone and cried for… I don’t know how long.”

Lee is with White in Beijing, where the American was hoping to add one last medal to his impressive collection before retiring from the sport.

Sadly he was not able to achieve that goal, crashing on his last run in the halfpipe final to finish fourth – achingly close to a spot on the podium.

He was in tears after the event as the realisation that his career had come to its end in the aftermath of that event, as the crowd showed their love and his opponents came to console him.

While White would no doubt have been gutted not to go out on a high, his role in Lee’s personal battle against illness will no doubt have put things into perspective.

And he was not afraid to gush about his long-time ally when invited to do so.

“Hell yeah, Esther is the best, I love her so much, I’m so happy to have her here with me, I couldn’t have done it without you, so, thank you, every step of the way, you’re the best,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lee says her work and duty to White has helped her to make progress in her own health battle.

Shaun White was emotional after his final Winter Olympics appearance


PA Images)

“It was one step at a time and doing treatment, maybe once a week and then slowly building it up and just being on the road with him to the Olympics, it’s amazing how much I’ve improved physically and mentally,” she added.

“I think just feeling like I have a purpose again and feeling useful again, that alone kind of boosted up my physical wellbeing. A few months ago, I was in a wheelchair going to the airport with him, and here I am.

“It’s just been such an amazing journey and I, I owe a lot to him to like, believe in me and believe that I can be here and help him at this level.

“And it just teaches you a lot about like where you can be mentally and how that can help you physically.”

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