Not worth the risk. Shaun White has decided to drop out of the Olympic slopestyle contest at the 2014 Sochi games. The 27-year-old professional snowboarder made the announcement exclusively to NBC's Today show on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
"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. "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."
The athlete fell during a slopestyle practice run Tuesday and jammed his wrist. White continued: "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 isn't the only snowboarder to express concerns about the dangers of the slopestyle course, which is a mountain trail that features rails, bumps and jumps to use for tricks. According to Today, Finland's Roope Tonteri told reporters, "I just don't want to get injured. It's not a really fun course to ride." Following feedback from the athletes, changes were made to the course on Monday.
White has a lot riding on the halfpipe event. He won the gold medal in the men's halfpipe at the 2010 Vancouver games and 2006 Turin games. If he takes home the gold again, White will be the first American man to win three Olympic gold medals in one event.
The athlete told Us Weekly last week that preparing to compete in two events at the Sochi games had been challenging.
"It's been so much more difficult than the other times just because I'm doing double events. I mean, I got slopestyle and halfpipe and, obviously, halfpipe I'm going for the three-peat," White explained to Us. "But slopestyle is interesting because I've actually had to do a lot of catch up work. It's a lot of progression in a short span of time, and I'm just really doing my best to get ready . . . But, to be honest, it's been the time of my life."