Shaun White, the biggest name in snowboarding, announced on Wednesday that he was pulling out of the Olympic Games’ first ever slopestyle event.
“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,” White said in a statement.
White was not favored to win the event anyway, seeing as he just barely made the slopestyle team. He struggled in the Olympic trials where he injured his shoulder during his first run, and he jammed his wrist after a recent fall in practice in Sochi.
White stated that his reason for backing out was to focus all of his attention on the halfpipe competition. Winning the halfpipe would make White the first ever winter Olympian to capture three gold medals in the same event.
However, White’s injury and retreat draws even more speculation to Sochi’s slopestyle course, Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Just last week Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, a leading contender in the slopestyle, broke his collarbone on the course which has taken him out of the Games completely.
“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 his statement.
Several athletes have complained about the course and the Olympic delegation is trying to adapt it in time for the event.
“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 change,” White said.