With all the concerns centered around anti-terror security in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, safety on some of the event courses themselves are getting overlooked. United States snowboarder Shaun White announced today he would be pulling out of the snowboarding slopestyle competition over safety concerns.
White’s main event, the halfpipe, will become his sole focus as he looks to gold medal in the event for the third straight Winter Olympics competition. In an interview with USA Today, the 27-year-old explained that the track was “a little intimidating” and that it was not worth risking his other pursuits. “The potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on,” said White. Earlier in the week, Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone while practicing the course in question and will miss the entirety of the games.
The slopestyle event is being featured for the first time in Winter Olympic history, and White was looking forward to being part of history, but a practice scare leaving the American with a hurt wrist was all it took for him to pull out. “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 part of,” said White in a statement issued by U.S. Snowboarding.
After Horgmo’s injury, officials had lessened the severity of the course by making smaller several of the jumps in the course. In all, approximately six feet of height were taken away from three different jumps, which should make the course run a bit smoother. Or so they hope. The event’s qualification round begins on Thursday, one day before Friday’s opening ceremony. Already the most expensive Olympics in history, the money will have to keep being poured into this event to make it right.
There are bumps to be expected with implementing a new tournament like the snowboarding slopestyle, but any injuries occurring as a result of an improperly built course may give the inaugural event an ugly start. As if one of the sports biggest names in Shaun White pulling out isn’t bad enough.