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Shaun White has no regrets about pulling out of slopestyle

Sochi Olympics Snowboard Men

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Shaun White took 10 practice runs down the halfpipe on a windless, sunny morning in the mountains above Sochi and let out a big "whoooo-hooo" when the last one was over.

Yes, he says, this is where he belongs.

In his first interview since announcing he was skipping the Olympic slopestyle contest, White told The Associated Press he is at peace with his decision to focus solely on the event where he's won two straight gold medals and will go for a third on Tuesday.

"I can understand if it's your first time to the Olympics, you wouldn't understand a decision like the one I made," he said Saturday. "But you set your goals according to what's important to you. Halfpipe is important to me and I didn't want to jeopardize that."

White withdrew from the Olympic debut of slopestyle after a couple of rugged days of practice that left him with a jammed wrist. He called the course "intimidating."

With input from the riders, the course was made significantly tamer by the final, where another American, Sage Kotsenburg, won the first gold medal of the games about an hour after White's session was over.

No regrets, says White, who will leave the Sochi Games the most famous name in his sport regardless of what happens on the halfpipe. He knows, however, that doubling down there adds a significant amount of pressure. He's trying to become the first American male to win three straight golds at the Winter Olympics.


"I'm OK with that," he said. "It keeps me going, keeps me progressing, keeps me guessing. And I'm hoping to have a great Olympics. I'm feeling very, very confident and healthy, which is nice."

White went through a grueling winter of qualifying for the Olympics. He hurt his ankle on the halfpipe and his shoulder on the slopestyle course.

He didn't try any of his most difficult tricks during the training session. This was the first day of training and the kinks are still being worked out on a halfpipe he called "interesting."

When he announced he was pulling out, the 27-year-old megastar said riding the treacherous course wasn't worth risking an injury that could put a damper on his chance for a three-peat. Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant was among the many who took to social media and accused White of ducking the competition because he knew he couldn't win. Others blamed White for costing another American a spot on the U.S. snowboarding team.

His coach, Bud Keene, said "I'd like all the haters to turn into lovers but that's not my job."

"I totally supported his call," Keene said. "It's never a good idea for any of these athletes to go out there when they're not feeling 100 percent about what they're doing. Because these are big features, this is icy snow and there is real danger in what he does. So, you've got to go with your gut."

White's gut tells him he's doing the right thing.

"It's a tough decision to make, just like anything at the Olympics. It's always, like, everything's on the line," he said. "I wanted to be here and wanted to compete in both events. But it just wasn't in the cards."

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Jerome February 09 2014 at 11:15 AM

He is a very skilled young an. And smart enough to know when to hang it up. Too bad he did not pull out earlier so someone else could have experienced the Olympic games.

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Dianne February 09 2014 at 9:32 AM

Shaun, go with your gut. The older crowd loves you always. You know yourself so do what is best for you. You are responsible for bringing this sport to the Olympics and I don't see these youngsters that are criticizing you thankins you or showing appreciation for your struggles earlier in this sport. You look great and I love the new hair style. Good luck in all your endeavors and very good luck at the Olympics.

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David..BRAAPP February 09 2014 at 8:26 AM

A wonderfully skilled athlete that let fame and advertising wealth get to his head and life style, for that his skill set has suffered greatly.

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meezmos February 09 2014 at 3:01 AM

Its not "The thrill of victory, and the discomfort of defeat"....its the Agony of defeat................things could get dangerous, ask a downhiller, a bobsledder, or even ask a slopestyle competitor that actually went for it.................hes taking the easiest route to make himself more rich and famous, but for all the athletes that know there are risks involved and still go for it because they are trained for it and maybe even do it afraid, shawn is a let down

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seedykay February 09 2014 at 9:24 AM

He went over there with a "goal". Something people these day know nothing about. He wants to be the first to win 3 golds in the half pipe. He just stuck to his goal with no other risk. If you aren't walking in his shoes then don't judge. Chances are you have no idea about what you are talking about. And you probably don't have any goals either!!

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crrunch February 09 2014 at 2:17 AM

Wisdom vs potential glory.....I'd call that a very good decision.

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rrfotobus February 08 2014 at 11:55 PM

Shaun, we old folks support your decision.. You make your own destiny, not the tiny folks who only criticize things they can neither understand or do. Good luck with the half-pipe.. Congrates to the new American gold medalist in the slopestyle.. Yours truly, ex-mt. climbers, white water enthusiasts, wildlife photographers, you know the adverture crowd now near age 70 still wishing we could be by your side.

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edwardserio February 08 2014 at 11:44 PM

Way to go Shaun just wish you made your choice earlier so another team member could of join the slop style,god luck in the half pipe.

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seedykay February 09 2014 at 9:28 AM

They only take so many first of all!!!! And he made the decision after he got there and got hurt on the course. Use some sense when you make comments. Make sure you have all the facts. To have someone else there he would have had to make that decision months ago. He made an "educated" decision after going on the course.

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americanmusclen55 February 08 2014 at 10:20 PM

His hair looks great now, like a different guy.

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candomk February 08 2014 at 11:14 PM

This young man along with some of his buddies back in the day is soooo responsible that Snowboarding is an event .at all. Im with americanmuslclenn.........His new is look is incredible. He has grown up before our eyes!!!!!!!!! Best of luck Shuan... America is very proud of your dedication to your sport.

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Jeanette S. Lyde February 08 2014 at 10:10 PM

Good decision Shaun!.....You know better than anyone what your body, senses and gut tell you. Shaun, go for the three peat if that's what you want...You're the one riding those slopes...much luck!

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Sundancer February 08 2014 at 10:07 PM

Love Shaun White! Love to watch him do his thing! Good luck! You'll always be Gold!

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