Shaun White plans to qualify in one event, not two, for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The 2006 and 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion has dropped slopestyle from his repertoire and doesn’t think he’ll re-add it before the Winter Games in PyeongChang, which start in 400 days.
Remember, White tried to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He withdrew from slopestyle on the eve of the Games and then finished fourth in halfpipe.
White competed in one slopestyle contest since Sochi, on March 4, and finished last.
“Slopestyle is just really not something I’m as interested in right now,” White said Thursday. “At the Olympics last time around, trying to do slope and halfpipe was, now looking back, I feel like one of the reasons why things maybe didn’t go as well for either. It’s hard to do both.
“It was just a struggle. I was learning, like, one trick in the slopestyle, then panicking and going over to the halfpipe and trying to learn a trick there. And then forgetting the trick I just learned on the [slopestyle] jumps. So I had to go back. It was just too much. I’m thinking, for me, and everything right now, what I want to do for my career to compete in all these things, slopestyle just doesn’t make sense.”
Also Thursday, White said he will return to the Winter X Games later this month, after controversially missing last year’s event.
“There was just, I don’t what you’d call it, maybe a miscommunication [last year],” White said, laughing. “We both realized it’s a contest, and the world’s best will be there, and I want to compete. That’s kind of all there is to it.”
It’s part of a busy season for White, who again will put on an Air + Style event in his native Los Angeles.
This year’s festival, set to include 30 snowboarders from 12 countries in addition to musical acts, is Feb. 18-19 at the LA Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
White doesn’t compete at Air + Style, but his contest schedule this winter also includes World Cup events in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and at the South Korean Olympic venue in February, plus the U.S. Open in March.
It will be his busiest season since Sochi. White’s band has broken up, opening up time to focus on the sport (as well as lessons for piano and singing).
White has already competed once this season, but it was not memorable. He shockingly failed to make the final of the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain on Dec. 15.
There’s a good reason for that. White was coming off surgery.
In October, White was training in New Zealand when his troublesome left ankle started acting up. White has dealt with ankle problems since 2009 and decided to undergo surgery to make sure it wouldn’t hinder him on the road to PyeongChang.
He said he used Copper as a “test run” for his ankle, and with heavy snowfall and poor conditions, didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk.
White hopes 2018 will not mark his final Olympics. He wants to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, since skateboarding is being added to that Olympic program. White won X Games vert titles in 2007 and 2011, but the 2020 Olympic format is a combination of park and street.Follow @nzaccardi