LIVE VIDEO: Live Newscast RIGHT NOW    Watch
 

Sochi Games: Competiton begins

1:09 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Finland's Ville Paumola competes in the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle second heat qualification at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

 


 


SOCHI, Russia (CBSNews.com) -- Competition at the Sochi Olympics has begun, 32 hours before the opening ceremony. 

Early starts are needed because of 12 men's and women's medal events added since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. 

Men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying runs - without American star Shaun White, who withdrew Wednesday - got under way Thursday at 10 a.m. local time at X-Treme Park in the mountains above Sochi. 

Women's qualifying runs were to follow in the afternoon, and women's moguls qualifying was scheduled to start the freestyle skiing events. 

Men's slopestyle and women's moguls will be among the first medals to be awarded Saturday. 

Down in Sochi, the new team figure skating competition begins at the Iceberg Skating Palace. 

The men's short program is to be followed by the pairs.

White had jammed his wrist on one practice jump and watched the world's best snowboarders join him in tumbling down the supersized, super-scary Olympic slopestyle course. 

Quickly, his choice became clear: Time to step away from the danger, and give himself a better chance in the event he knows he can win. 

The world's most famous snowboarder pulled out of the new Olympic event Wednesday, saying that after much deliberation, he has decided to bypass a chance at winning two gold medals at these games and instead concentrate on the halfpipe, where he'll have a chance to win his third straight title next week. 

"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 in a statement.

The world's most decorated rider in a sport known for its risk-takers, White's decision was a stunner that dealt yet another blow to the still-to-start Sochi Games. They have been wracked by security threats and political dust-ups, along with the loss of at least one other headliner, injured American skier Lindsey Vonn.

White isn't leaving, but his departure from an event that was essentially introduced at the Olympics this year to take advantage of his star power certainly can't make the folks at the IOC or NBC too happy.

"He's a notable person and he probably would have brought more viewers to slopestyle," said Nick Goepper, an American who competes in the skiing version of the event. 

IOC spokesman Mark Adams downplayed the idea that the course is too dangerous.

"I don't think that's an issue," he said. "A lot of the athletes have said they're very happy, they like the venue."

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You may also like... 

Arrrrrr! Pirates invade Tampa for Gasparilla

Treason? Secret Service visits candidate who says Obama should hang

Mystery House: Unsuspecting house holds a hidden secret

Abuse Arrest: Hog-hunting mom leaves kids in freezing car

Seeking Sasquatch: Bigfoot sightings abound in Colorado

Cyclist stuck in windshield: "Hi, I'm the guy you hit"

Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant

Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary

#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights

Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children

Popular photo galleries:

Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers

Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos 

Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant

Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***

Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole

Popular Databases:

Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here

Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here

Most Watched Videos