Shaun White during a training session on the hill at the second jump at Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, on Tuesday. (Photo: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports)
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (USA TODAY) -- Shaun White's quest for two golds in one Olympics ended Wednesday.
Less than 24 hours before he was slated to compete here, the American snowboarder announced on NBC's TODAY
that he would not compete in slopestyle as he had previously planned.
The two-time defending gold medalist in the halfpipe, White is seeking
to become the first American man to win an event in three consecutive
"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
shared exclusively with TODAY. "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 being a part of."
SLOPESTYLE: White, others speak of injury risk
was the only American to even attempt to make both teams and struggled
with injuries throughout qualifying for the U.S team. A sprained ankle
he suffered in the halfpipe forced him to pull out of the first
also injured his shoulder in a crash he took on the slopestyle course
in the final week of qualifying. He jammed his wrist in practice here
but said the severity of the injury was "blown out of proportion."
feeling healthy," he said in a news conference here around an hour
before making the announcement. "Definitely concerns about the course.
It's been interesting to see how it's developed and changed over the
past few days. I guess the big question is if it will continue to
He was not favored to win gold in the event and faced a challenge to
even medal. Canadian Mark McMorris remains the gold medal favorite
despite breaking a rib at the X Games last month. Several other
Canadians and Norwegians are expected to challenge for a spot on the
White was once dominant in the event, winning eight X
Games medals, before stepping away to focus on halfpipe for the
Olympics. When he returned to competition, he found how far the sport
had progressed in his absence.
Led by McMorris and Norwegian
Torstein Horgmo, the triple cork became the must-have move to compete
for a spot on the podium. Horgmo was considered a medal favorite but
will not compete here after breaking his collarbone in training Monday.
With Horgmo out, Canadian Maxence Parrot and Norwegian Stale Sandbech remain strong medal contenders.
winning X Games gold this year, Parrot became the first rider to land
two triple corks in a run. Although he had worked on them in practice,
White has yet to cleanly land a triple cork in competition.
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 in
Snowboarding does not allow for alternate riders,
so another American will not compete in the event. The qualification
round is scheduled for Thursday morning.
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