Shaun White

Shaun White pulls out of slopestyle; Canadians react

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Shaun White withdrew from the Sochi Olympic slopestyle snowboarding competition Wednesday, citing injury risk one day before the event makes its Winter Games debut.

“After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA,” White said in a statement, according to TODAY. “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.

“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 Olympic goals on.”

Riders raised concern over the course’s safety after a three-hour training session Monday and proposed changes to officials after Norwegian medal contender Torstein Horgmo broke a collarbone in a crash and withdrew from the Olympics.

White jammed a wrist in training Tuesday, but said it was “blown out of proportion” and that he was feeling healthy earlier Wednesday. He skipped slopestyle training Wednesday.

“I’m feeling healthy,” White said in a press conference before announcing his withdrawal. “In snowboarding you get bumps and bruises all the time.”

If White prevails in halfpipe Tuesday, he will become the first U.S. man to win the same Winter Olympic event three times. (Speed skater Shani Davis will attempt the same feat a day later in the 1000m.)

White, 27, won every Winter X Games slopestyle title from 2003 to 2006 before focusing more on halfpipe. He finished fifth at the 2013 X Games and did not enter the event this year but was considered an Olympic medal contender.

Slopestyle’s Olympic debut will go on without White and Horgmo starting with qualifiers Thursday and a final Saturday.

That makes a Canadian podium sweep very possible with two-time X Games champion Mark McMorris, 2013 European X Games champion Sebastien Toutant and reigning X Games champion Max Parrot.

McMorris is recovering from a broken rib suffered in a Jan. 25 crash at the X Games.

Toutant and Parrot, who are not attempting halfpipe, weighed in on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/sebtoots/status/431049913062133760

https://twitter.com/maxparrot/status/431040186135633920

Americans Chas GuldemondSage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassel are also in the mix.

Four other men are slated to attempt the slopestyle-halfpipe double, including Finland’s Peetu Piiroinen, who won 2010 Olympic silver behind White in halfpipe.

White also gave up a bid to become the first Winter Olympian to win every event they entered in a career, having entered at least four events. Canadian hockey player Caroline Ouellette will get that chance in Sochi, too.

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Race against Usain Bolt’s world record with ‘BeatBot’ (video)

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Puma has introduced the “BeatBot,” a self-driving, line-following robot that runners can program to move at a specific pace around a track.

That means one could race against a robot-version of Usain Bolt‘s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, with BeatBot’s top speed at just over 27 miles per hour.

The BeatBot can also navigate track curves, as shown in the video above.

Puma plans to roll out BeatBot to various track programs around the world over the year.

MORE: Bolt, Ashton Eaton set for showdown

How to watch Penn Relays, Drake Relays on NBC Sports

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Several U.S. Olympic champions highlight the Penn Relays and Drake Relays fields, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday.

At the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, the U.S. 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m pools include:

Justin Gatlin: 2004 Olympic 100m champ
Tyson Gay: Olympic 100m, fourth place
Carmelita Jeter: Olympic 100m silver medalist
Jeremy Wariner: 2004 Olympic 400m champ
Sanya Richards-Ross: Olympic 400m champ

Also competing will be two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Kerron Stewart and 2015 World 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson for Team Jamaica.

STREAM: Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET

Next is the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, including:

  • 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt versus 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the 400m
  • World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham in the high jump. Cunningham, 18, is the daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham.
  • 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson versus 2013 World champion Brianna Rollins in the 100m hurdles.

STREAM: Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET

MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule