Krasnaya Polyana, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – In a shocking development, Shaun White pulled out of his favorite slopestyle competition to focus on bringing the gold in the halfpipe event of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA,” White said in a statement.
“The difficult decision to forego slopestyle is not one I take lightly as I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history, a history I had planned on being a part of,” he added.
Slopestyle used to be White’s preferred event, dominating every major tournament like the Winter X-Games. However, he decided to skip the event when the Olympics added halfpipe.
White’s decision to quit slopestyle came after a few days after many top riders criticized the Sochi course for its difficulty and the size of its jumps.
White had fallen during a practice run earlier in the week and injured his wrist, though he played down that injury during a news conference shortly before his statement was released.
Another medal contender, Torstein Horgmo of Norway, broke his collarbone on one of the course’s rails and is out of the competition.
“With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on,” White said.
However, Max Parrot of Canada, a gold-medal favorite in slopestyle, believed that White pulled out because he has no chance of winning.
“Shaun knows he won’t be able to win the slopes, that’s why he pulled out. He’s scared!” Parrot said on his Twitter account. The post was later deleted.