SOCHI, Russia -- Olympic snowboarding champion Shaun White, who was scheduled for double duty here, pulled out of the new slopestyle event that begins Thursday rather than risk aggravating a wrist injury that might jeopardize his chances of winning a third halfpipe gold on Tuesday.
“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 Olympic goals on,” White told NBC.
Yet in a Wednesday press conference an hour earlier White gave no indication that he was considering withdrawing from the new slopestyle event and said that his wrist injury had been “blown out of proportion.”
“I just jammed it,” he said.
Yet White, who would be the first US athlete to win the same event in three Games if he retains his halfpipe crown, obviously had been worried about competing on a course that he’d said was “intimidating” after Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, a three-time Big Air champion in the X Games, broke his collarbone on the first training day. Horgmo will miss the Olympics.
“Shaun is the consummate professional and has made a sound athletic decision,” said US Snowboarding & Free Skiing director Jeremy Forster.