It is no secret Cayman sees many celebrities flock to these shores.
Many are Hollywood stars looking for a private slice of Caribbean living and others are sports icons looking to see what Cayman has to offer.
Last week Cayman hosted another A-list celebrity in the form of American extreme sports star Shaun White.
White is best known for his exploits with a board by his feet in the sport of snowboarding. However he is also a professional skateboarder who has rubbed shoulders with giants like Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek.
The 22-year-old California native rose to stardom this decade; winning a gold medal in snowboarding for team USA at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. In addition he has been a force at the Winter X-Games in snowboarding where he has won 13 medals – including nine gold – since 2002.
He has been just as good in skateboarding, winning five medals in the last four years – three of which were at the X-Games.
‘The Flying Tomato’, as he is known around the world, was here for a few days promoting skateboarding in Cayman as part of Skate Cayman, a summer destination skateboarding camp.
White spent most of time enjoying his first visit to Cayman doing the usual tourist activities from visiting Stingray City to getting a tan on the beach.
However he spent much of his time at Cayman’s Black Pearl Skate-park at Grand Harbour. He was at the park nearly all of Friday doing demos for locals, signing autographs and speaking to local kids about his life and skateboarding.
Among some of the fortunate kids who were able to see White were those from Prospect and Red Bay primary school.
White’s presence drew a number of notable faces including a slew of Department of Tourism staff (who are part sponsors of the camp), Red Bull girls (the company sponsors White internationally) and Black Pearl Operations Manager Ali Amos.
Amos, known for her exploits in women’s flag football, saw White during her day-to-day duties at the skate-park.
From her viewpoint White’s visit was truly a large-scale event.
‘We were thrilled to have Shaun White come to visit. Not only was this a chance for our kids to have this amazing opportunity of meeting the biggest athlete in extreme sports but also a chance to showcase the one-of-a-kind Black Pearl skate park as well as the beautiful Cayman Islands.’
One of things that struck Amos most about White was his humility.
‘Shaun had the ear of all at the park that day, he not only amazed with his big tricks and fast confident skating but he was fantastic with the kids. He answered questions and asked questions too. He was very down to earth.’
Amos, herself an avid skateboarding enthusiast, saw plenty of interest from the kids and locals present in the sport.
‘The park was very busy on Friday; excitement had been building for weeks about his arrival. It was great that we had a chance to bring in a couple of classes from a few of the schools.
‘The only downside is we wished we had the time to give all of the youth of Cayman the opportunity to see him skate and to meet him.’
White’s visit is essentially the launching point for Skate Cayman. Over the next two months skating legends and expert coaches are set to flood Black Pearl offering tricks, tips and demos.
Among the big names slated to come to Cayman are Rune Glifberg, Bucky Lasek and Greg Lutzka.
Looking ahead Amos feels the enthusiasm seen from White’s visit is a good indicator of things to come.
‘Shaun White definitely kicked off summer camps at the Black Pearl with a bang, being the biggest athlete in the US pretty much put us on the map.
‘We have quite the line-up of talent coming down this summer with a lot of other big names in the sport. We hope that this will draw some international visitors this summer as well as give the youth of Cayman the chance to show the world what they’ve got.’