In his first interview since pulling out of the snowboard slopestyle competition to focus on claiming his third consecutive Olympic halfpipe gold, Team USA’s Shaun White told the Associated Press that he’s okay with the decision he made.
With the slopestyle gold having gone to American teammate Sage Kotsenburg, White will attempt to become the first American man to win three Winter Olympic golds in the same individual event when the halfpipe competition goes off on Tuesday (speed skater Shani Davis can do the same on Wednesday in the 1000m).
“I can understand if it’s your first time to the Olympics, you wouldn’t understand a decision like the one I made,” he said to the AP on Saturday. “But you set your goals according to what’s important to you. Halfpipe is important to me and I didn’t want to jeopardize that.”
White took some heat on social media for dropping slopestyle, with Canadian rivals Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant accusing him of making the decision because he knew he couldn’t win (Parrot later apologized).
It came after White jammed his wrist in a training incident last Tuesday, part of a series of such accidents that included Norway’s Torstein Horgmo breaking his collarbone; he was ruled out of the Olympics afterwards.
But as he looks ahead to potential history in the halfpipe, White believes he’s better off with his choice.
“It’s a tough decision to make, just like anything at the Olympics,” he said. “It’s always, like, everything’s on the line.
“I wanted to be here and wanted to compete in both events. But it just wasn’t in the cards.”