U.S. snowboarder Shaun White withdraws from Olympic slopestyle event
WATCH: Paul Johnson reports on Shaun White pulling out of the slopestyle event
Star snowboarder Shaun White will not be competing in the slopestyle event at the Sochi Olympics, according to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
He will still compete in the halfpipe event. On his Facebook page, White wrote, “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 has two Olympic gold medals in the halfpipe: from 2006 in Turin and from 2010 in Vancouver. This is the first Olympics to feature slopestyle snowboarding.
“Shaun is the consummate professional and has made a sound athletic decision,” said Jeremy Forster, Snowboarding and Freeskiing Director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) in a statement on the association’s website. “We anticipate an outstanding slopestyle debut on Saturday but also respect the importance to Shaun to keep his focus on winning a third halfpipe gold.”
Questions have been raised about the safety of the slopestyle course ahead of the Olympics. White injured his wrist during a training run on Tuesday, and Norwegian Torstein Horgmo withdrew from competition after breaking his collarbone.
Association spokesperson Tom Kelly said White’s withdrawal was not related to any injuries.
White was one of the highest-ranked slopestyle snowboarders in the world, so having him out of the competition could help the Canadian team. He placed fifth in slopestyle at the 2013 Winter X Games, behind Canadians Mark McMorris and Maxence Parrot. White did not compete in the 2014 X Games in order to prepare for Sochi.
A few Canadian snowboarders took jabs at White on Twitter shortly after the announcement, suggesting he withdrew because he knew he couldn’t win.
WATCH: Canadian athletes take some shots after White withdraws from event
The slopestyle qualifiers begin Thursday.