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    Shaun White Withdraws from Olympic Slopestyle Event

    Shaun White. Image by Mitchell Hasseth/NBC Olympics/USOC.

    Shaun White. Image by Mitchell Hasseth/NBC Olympics/USOC.

    After dropping out of the X Games to focus on training for Sochi, Shaun White has once again decided to pull out of an event at the last minute. White announced yesterday that he will no longer be competing in the slopestyle event because he feels the course is too dangerous.

    When the course was first revealed to riders on Monday, many expressed concern about how dangerous the course seemed. The very next day, Norway’s Torstein Hormgo broke his collarbone during a practice run and will now watch the event from a hospital bed. Marika Enne from Finland suffered a concussion on the course the same day.

    Even though the course’s difficulty is obvious, with Finland’s Roope Tonteri calling it “sketchy” and other riders claiming the jumps are “obnoxiously tall,” White’s decision is being scrutinized as cowardly by some of the other riders.

    White has struggled with the event in the past. Though he performed well in the event from 2003 to 2006, White’s decision to focus his efforts on half-pipe since then put him behind in the ever-evolving sport of slopestyle. In fact, White hasn’t claimed a medal in slopestyle since the 2009 X Games. Such stats have prompted two Canadian slopestyle racers to demean White through their Twitter accounts.

    “Shaun knows he won’t be able to win the slopes, that’s why he pulled out. He’s scared!” Max Parrot said on his Twitter, in a post which is now deleted.

    Sebastien Toutant echoed his sentiments saying, “Mr. White… It’s easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can’t win…”

    But White’s declaration to the press, prompted by a sprained wrist during practice, was not made lightly.

    “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 Olympic goals on,” he said in a statement to NBC’s TODAY.

    Now, slopestyle’s Olympic debut will be without White and the heavy favorite, Horgmo, making the Canadian Olympians the ones to watch. This also puts much more pressure on White’s half-pipe performance, which, if he wins, would give him his third gold medal.

    “I definitely feel like half-pipe is carrying a bit more weight, a little bit more pressure,” he said.

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