Hero and guitar

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White plays guitar and sings backup for the synth-rock band Bad Things.

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 3 Music issue. Subscribe today!

FOR ONCE, Shaun White is not the star. The two-time defending Olympic gold medalist is also juggling a job as guitarist for synth-rock band Bad Things. "When people knew it was my group, I think they expected me to be front and center, but hopefully they were pleasantly surprised," says White. "I play guitar and sing some backup. That's my role." Many action-sports athletes dabble in music, but few approach it with the single-mindedness that White -- who won his first guitar in 2004 -- has. In addition to trying to master a triple cork 1440 in slopestyle, he's learning to play keyboard. "That's what they need," he says. "It's making me a better musician." White has lugged his guitar and amp to snowboarding events this winter and spent evenings rehearsing for the band's upcoming tour. Will it pay off? Bad Things' self-titled debut album dropped Jan. 21, and they'll play the Firefly Music Festival in June. So if he wins gold again in Sochi, perhaps White will follow up with platinum.

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