By Nick Butler at the Main Media Centre in Sochi

After several days of training here, Shaun White has withdrawn from the slopestyle competition to focus on the halfpipe ©Getty ImagesFebruary 5 - United States' snowboarding superstar Shaun White has pulled out of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. 

White, bidding to win a third consecutive gold medal in the halfpipe next week, is not prepared to risk missing out due to an injury suffered in his less favoured event.

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".

Shaun White will now focus on defending the halfpipe title he won in both Turin and Vancouver ©Getty ImagesShaun White will now focus on defending the halfpipe title he won in both Turin and Vancouver ©Getty Images

Although, unlike Horgmo, White's Olympics is not over, his absence is a major blow to Games organises and television companies eager to maximise his superstar potential. 

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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