Professional snowboarder Shaun White announced today—one day before the 2014 Winter Olympics start—that he will not be competing in the slopestyle event this year. Instead he'll focus on defending his gold-medal title on the halfpipe course.
Given that slopestyle is a new event this year and athletes love to the be first to win gold in anything, it baffles fans that White is giving up a chance to make history, plus this isn't really his style. However, he doesn't want to risk injury.
"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. However, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on," White told Today. (Tweet this quote!)
Building the Olympic slopestyle course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park is, quite literally, uncharted territory, and after athletes tested it out earlier this week, they were quick to express their concern about its safety.
On Monday, Norwegian slopestyler Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone after a practice run. Then Tuesday, Finnish snowboarder Marika Enne crashed on the course's final jump, hit her head, and was taken out on a stretcher to be diagnosed with a concussion. The same day, White took a spill and jammed his wrist. Already sporting a black eye from jumping into an airbag during his pre-games training, this seemed to solidify his decision.
As he's grown older, White has learned a bit about himself as an athlete, which is what separates him from the others at Sochi, his third Olympics, he said during a press teleconference last November. “I approach the competition and practice a lot more precisely than I used to. With age I've learned what to push for and what to not, and what my body needs to recover," he said. (Tweet this quote!) This definitely shows through in his most recent announcement.
Get more of the scoop on White's decision in the video below.