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Shaun White pulls out of Olympic slopestyle

12:47 5th February 2014 by Andrew Duthie
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The world's most decorated snowboarder will not compete in Olympic slopestyle. Photo: Gabe L'Heureux

The world’s most decorated snowboarder will not compete in Olympic slopestyle. Photo: Gabe L’Heureux

At the 11th hour, Shaun White has pulled the plug on his slopestyle ambitions at Sochi. Releasing a statement on his official Facebook page, El Blanco said:

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. I know my fans will have my back on this difficult decision. Thanks for the continued support.

Ever since he first declared an interest in competing in both halfpipe and slopestyle, there was talk from some corners that it just wouldn’t be possible to be a world-beater at both – not even for him. It looked like the naysayers were right when he faltered at the 2013 X Games slopestyle, nowhere near the standard of eventual winner Mark McMorris (although still utterly dominant in the halfpipe). Still, he upped his game and beat out a top field to win in the Grand Prix qualifying series shortly before the games. Besides, he’s always able to step things up under pressure, so we were certainly still considering him a top contender.

Shaun at the 2013 Burton US Open. Photo: Gabe L'Heureux

Shaun at the 2013 Burton US Open. Photo: Dean Blotto Gray

Nevertheless, like several of the riders Shaun appears to have been unimpressed by the slopestyle course in Sochi and according to observers was struggling to put a run together. Ed chatted to Team GB coach Hamish McKnight this morning, and Shaun came up in conversation. Here’s what he had to say:

Old Shauny boy didn’t turn up for training today. He’s been having a nightmare with the course. A proper nightmare. I don’t think he’s done anything better than a 7. And he slipped over on the drop in and hurt his wrist. I noticed he’s not appeared today so…

It’s bad news for the other halfpipe hopefuls, as Shaun will now be giving the U-ditch his full attention; and whenever he’s done that, he’s been pretty much unstoppable. We’ll have more on this as it unfolds, so be sure to check back for further updates.

 

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