Shaun White to skip halfpipe at qualifier
COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) — Shaun White will only compete in slopestyle at this week’s World Cup snowboarding event, choosing to skip the halfpipe contest as he tries to get his ailing left ankle back to 100 percent.
The two-time defending Olympic gold medalist hurt the ankle last Saturday on the halfpipe at the Dew Tour, where he finished second to Greg Bretz. White then pulled out of Sunday’s slopestyle finals.
He had originally planned on competing in both events at Copper Mountain this week, but after practice Tuesday, his publicist said White was skipping the halfpipe event, which starts Wednesday with qualifying.
This week marks the second of five selection events for the U.S. Olympic team. Spots are awarded based on riders’ best two finishes from the five events, so White doesn’t necessarily have to compete in every contest to make the team.
But an international rule also states that athletes must have at least one top-30 finish since July 2012 in a World Cup event to be eligible for that event at the Olympics. White won a World Cup in halfpipe last year but doesn’t have a start in slopesyle, which is making its Olympic debut in Sochi.
This week’s event in Copper Mountain is the only U.S. qualifier that also doubles as a World Cup.
The only other World Cup slopestyle contest before the Olympics is next month in Quebec — an event that overlaps with a U.S. qualifier in California. That twist in the schedule makes it important for White to at least get his top-30 finish this week.