Did Shaun White withdraw from the slopestyle event at the Sochi Olympics out of fear of a treacherous course, or for something less understandable—a desire to avoid the “shame” of coming in second?
If you judge by the popular press, it’s easy to blame the course. Earlier this week, Torstein Horgmo, a medal favorite from Norway, broke his collarbone in a practice run on Monday. An AP story gave a few details of the accident before declaring “Athletes had expressed concern about the steep jump,” which suggests the course was to blame. USA Today, meanwhile, said that for White and others, “slopestyle injuries real concern.” The BBC suggested that snowboarders have been up in arms over the design. CBS raised the bar with a headline, “Shaun White calls for changes on ‘intimidating’ slopestyle course.” It warned, “Not many riders are pleased with the amount of risks Sochi’s course assumes.” At a press conference cited by the Today show, White said “the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on.”
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