Just when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) thought they had another event that would attract a younger crowd, not to mention the star-power of two-time gold medalist Shaun White, the Sochi Olympic course for the snowboarding Slopestyle event which is to debut this winter, has been debated as not up to world class standards. Some riders out in the latest practice runs have claimed it down-right treacherous.
In a statement today, Wednesday, February, 5, 2014, one day before the Opening Ceremonies, Shaun White has said he will not compete in the Slopestyle event afterall.
Here is his statement: “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 a part of. However, with the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on.”
Obviously this crushes potential viewership for NBC and the Olympics aren’t too keen either. According to the IOC spokesman Mark Adams, regarding the question of whether the course was too dangerous, “I don’t think that’s an issue. A lot of the athletes have said they’re very happy, they like the venue.”
White previously said after a practice session on the course that it was dangerous. “There are definitely concerns about the course,” said White. “It’s been interesting to see how it’s developed and changed over the past couple days. The big question is if it will continue to change. Because every day, they have riders meetings and they give feedback. Sometimes there’s changes, sometimes there’s not.”
There’s always speculation about the course designs for Slopestyle and SuperPipe. The practice runs with the athletes are where concerns are taken into consideration and often adjusted. However there’s TV viewership to consider and the spectacular nature of mega jumps, super-steep angles, and take-off ramp heights that are notoriously sketchy to land. If not built correctly and with a certain flow, it’s just wicked-dangerous. And it’s not just a case of stomping the landings, which would be necessary for a gold, but there’s the real risk of serious injury.
White did hurt his wrist in practice and has a bum shoulder and ankle, but that wasn’t the real kicker that made him pull-out of Slopestyle. It was the risk of injury on a sub-par course before his potential 3-peat for a gold medal in the halfpipe.
Torah Bright from Australia who is the defending champion in halfpipe and is scheduled to compete in all 3 snowboarding events including pipe, Slopestyle, and SnowboardCross also claimed the Slopestyle course wasn’t worthy.
She told the Associated Press, “We’re here as the world’s best snowboarders. Too bad we don’t have a world-class course. The craftsmanship doesn’t match the world-class athletes that are here.”
The snowboarding halfpipe event takes place on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 where all eyes will be on Shaun White as he tries for another Olympic gold medal.
Stay tuned for more from Label Networks.