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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."

Join the discussion

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lakat47 February 08 2014 at 9:24 PM

Go get the gold, Shaun!

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linda February 08 2014 at 10:31 AM

read the new york times profile to see the real guy

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2 replies
hattie54 linda February 08 2014 at 11:31 AM

Does he regret destroying that hotel room?

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1 reply
prosymom hattie54 February 08 2014 at 5:01 PM

That wasn't Shaun White...

Flag +1 rate up
wickedone1414 linda February 08 2014 at 12:49 PM

I believe the only report on this was distributed by TMZ. Well, enough said.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
crrunch February 09 2014 at 2:17 AM

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

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Kay February 08 2014 at 9:08 PM

I do not blame Shaun one bit for pulling out of the slopestyle snowboarding! Why take a chance in a major injury that would take him out of his favorite "halfpipe." And from what I have read about the slopestyle run everyone was having problems with it.

You go Shaun, you made a very wise decision! And Good Luck on the halfpipe and Good Luck to all the U. S. athletes participating in the Olympics! We are rooting for them all!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
kfordatty February 08 2014 at 1:18 PM


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bldrblue February 08 2014 at 1:02 PM

Didn't they close one of the women's skiing venues because it was so dangerous? You can be the best at what you do but if you show up and the course is solid ice, or has a jump that's just plain dangerous, you have a decision to make. Do you throw yourself out there and take a chance at never performing your sport again, or do you use your head and make a sensible decision. The people who criticize are really cavalier with someone else's life! You can sit in your armchair, chug your beers and criticize, but you don't get to make a decision that could ruin or end another person's life. I believe one of the US women broke her leg on a practice run in her venue.

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Pat February 08 2014 at 10:12 AM

However it goes, he's still Mr. Snowboard just as Peyton Manning is still Mr Quarterback.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
salmo60 February 08 2014 at 3:23 PM

If it wasn't for Shaun White, where would this sport be?????

Flag Reply +20 rate up
camtownpa February 08 2014 at 11:30 AM

My hat goes off to you, too many athelets take risks they should not and spend the rest of there lives a cripple or worse you have done wonderful things for snowboarding leave with your head held up high..............Thanks for the memories

Flag Reply +18 rate up
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