Olympic snowboarder Shaun White withdraws from slopestyle competition

Feb. 5, 2014 at 8:50 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Citing the risk of injury, U.S. snowboarder Shaun White said he was withdrawing from the slopestyle competition at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"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 told NBC News' "Today" Wednesday in a statement. "The difficult decision to forgo 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."

White's announcement follows a fall he took Tuesday, jamming his left wrist on a practice run on the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park course.

"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.

While danger is inherent in an extreme snow sport such as slopestyle -- in which competitors are judged on a variety of tricks performed on rails, boxes and jumps -- White and other snowboarders have expressed concerns about the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, NBC News said. Criticism grew after Torstein Horgmo of Norway, considered a medal contender, fell off a rail Monday and broke his collarbone, knocking him out of the Sochi Games.

Canada's Sebastian Toutant said maneuvering the course felt like "jumping out of a building" while Finland's Roope Tonteri called the course "pretty sketchy," NBC News said.

"I just don't want to get injured," Tonteri said. "It's not a really fun course to ride."

Changes were made to the course -- including reducing the combined height of its three jumps about 6 feet -- after the Olympians' feedback, NBC News said. Snowboarders said the changes were an improvement.

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