Double halfpipe Olympic champion White, one of the biggest
drawcards of the winter Games, said in a statement carried by NBC on
Wednesday that he did not want to risk his chances of winning a
third halfpipe gold medal.
White's decision comes after Norwegian Torstein Horgmo, a triple X
Games gold medalist in Big Air, broke his collarbone in a crash on
Monday and will miss the Games.
White also hurt his wrist on Tuesday after falling on a course he
had earlier described as "intimidating".
"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," said White.
After securing the halfpipe titles in 2006 and 2010, White was
looking to add the slopestyle gold to his tally as the event makes
its Olympic debut in Sochi.
The slopestyle events start at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park with
qualifying runs on Thursday.
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U.S. Snowboarding & Free Skiing director Jeremy Forster said he
understood the decision.
"Shaun is the consummate professional and has made a sound athletic
decision," he said.
"We anticipate an outstanding slopestyle debut on Saturday, but also
respect the importance to Shaun to keep his focus on winning a third
Several athletes have spoken out about the risks posed by the
course, despite changes being made.
"The big jumps are very big, especially for the girls," Russia's
Sarka Pancochova told reporters on Wednesday. "We are very little,
we have 30kg difference to the guys. It's hard to get the speed you
The 27-year-old White will now start his Sochi campaign on Tuesday
with halfpipe qualifying.
The opening ceremony for the Games is on Friday.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford; additional reporting by Philip
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