Roughly one hour after fielding questions about the challenge of juggling both the Olympic halfpipe and slopestyle competitions, two-time halfpipe champion Shaun White appeared on NBC and announced that he was withdrawing from the inaugural slopestyle competition, saying that “the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on.”
Moments later, White issued the following statement through the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association: “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. 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.”
White’s withdrawal, after his intensely chronicled pursuit of earning a spot on both Olympic snowboarding teams, robs the Games of yet another of its more compelling storylines. And it prompted a statement from the U.S. Olympic Committee, whose spokesman Patrick Sandusky said: “Shaun is a professional and certainly knows what’s best for his performance. We support the athletic decisions of our athletes, and look forward to watching the entire U.S. team perform.”
Roughly one hour prior, White gave no indication of his decision during a press conference with reporters, saying that the wrist injury he had suffered during slopestyle training earlier in the week had been “blown out of proportion a little bit” and joking about the challenge of balancing the conflicting schedules for practice and competition in both disciplines.
“I’m just going to rely on my super strength to take me through,” White said. “That’s basically the go-to plan.”