February 5 - United States' snowboarding superstar Shaun White has pulled out of tomorrow's Olympic slopestyle qualifying here, after course safety concerns persuaded him to prioritise his favoured halfpipe event.
This follows a minor injury he sustained in training yesterday, along with a flurry of concerns voiced by fellow athletes over the extremely difficult nature of a course, which also resulted in Norway's Torstein Horgmo sustaining a broken collarbone after a heavy crash.
In a statement issued by US Snowboarding, he said 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 part of".
But his withdrawal did receive criticism from some quarters after Canadian rival Sebastien Toutant posted on Twitter: "Mr. White... It's easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can't win".
Organises meanwhile responded to concerns by lowering the size of three jumps on the course - while the close proximity of the rails at the beginning of the slope has also received criticism.
Action is due to underway tomorrow, a day before the Opening Ceremony, with the final to be held on Saturday (February 8).
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