KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Shaun White jammed his wrist on one jump and watched the world’s best snowboarders join him in tumbling down the supersized, super-scary Olympic slopestyle course.
Quickly, his choice became clear: Time to step away from the danger and give himself a better chance in the event he knows he can win.
The world’s most famous snowboarder pulled out of the new Olympic event Wednesday, saying that after much deliberation, he has decided to bypass a chance at winning two gold medals at these games and instead concentrate on the halfpipe, where he’ll have a chance to win his third straight title next week.
“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 Olympics goals on,” White said in a statement.
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The world’s most decorated rider, White’s decision was a stunner that dealt yet another blow to the Sochi Games. They have been wracked by security threats and political dustups, along with the loss of at least one other headliner, injured U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn.
• Billie Jean King will not attend Friday’s opening ceremony because her mother is ill. King had been selected to help lead the U.S. delegation. The White House said former U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow, originally scheduled for the closing ceremony, will take King’s place.
• Todd Lodwick, a 37-year-old Nordic Combined athlete who will be competing in his sixth Olympics, was named as the flag-bearer of the United States for the opening ceremony.
• Tampa Bay Lightning star center Steven Stamkos will not play for Canada because he hasn’t recovered sufficiently from a broken right leg.
• A campaign to kill stray dogs is putting Olympic organizers on the defensive. The International Olympic Committee said only sick strays in host city Sochi are being exterminated, and others are just being taken away so they can’t disrupt the Feb. 7-23 games.
• The Olympic flame reached Sochi after a 39,000-mile torch relay, the longest in the history of the games. During the journey, the torch relay reached the North Pole, went to the top of Europe’s highest mountain, plunged into the world’s deepest lake and was even taken into space by Russian cosmonauts.
• Protesters in cities around the world targeted major Olympic sponsors, urging them to speak out against Russia’s law restricting gay-rights activities. Two more sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team condemned the law, but leading global sponsors did not join them.