Shaun White
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Shaun White details crash that led to 62 stitches

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Shaun White crashed on his face training in New Zealand two weeks ago, requiring 62 stitches across his forehead, lips and tongue.

“I’ve had worse,” White laughed by phone Wednesday. “I would say it’s the most, like, visually alarming crash [in my career], you know what I mean?

“My worst crash is actually MTV’s 100 most brutal moments [video here via Diamond Dallas Page]. I was 11, and I crashed into another skateboarder, Bob Burnquist. I broke my hand. I spiral fractured my foot. I had a hairline fracture in my skull, and I woke up a day later. That was, by far, the worst crash.”

This most recent crash will cause White to miss about a month of snowboarding. The double Olympic halfpipe champion said he started working out again Wednesday and is planning to ride again late this month.

He expects to compete in the first of a series of Olympic team selection events the second weekend of December.

White remembers the crash in detail. He was performing a double flip 1440. He clipped the top of the halfpipe upon re-entry, bounced toward the bottom of the pipe, caught the toe edge of his board and faceplanted.

“And the wall itself is about 22 feet, so I flew all the way down,” he said. “I’ve fallen that way a million times. It’s kind of a perfect situation where I hit right on my lip and split my lip open. … I was bleeding a lot. I got up and rode down to the lift off area. I wasn’t knocked out. I ended up riding myself down to the paramedics office, the ski patrol. They’re like, look, the hospital is really far away, so I ended up taking a helicopter to the hospital and getting patched up.

“We have a really tough wax tech,” White went on, sharing more laughs. “He loved hockey, I think, more than anything. He was like, yeah, this happens. Split his face open, it’s good for the boy.”

White also suffered a pulmonary lung contusion. The blood buildup in his lungs delayed his flight home until his oxygen levels improved.

White was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and had two major surgeries before his first birthday. It left him with a six-inch scar in the center of his rib cage.

The 31-year-old has also had a few concussions and a left ankle injury that bothered him from 2009 until he underwent surgery last fall.

This 62-stitcher is actually his second significant crash of this preseason.

White badly bruised his hip and his liver in a training fall in New Zealand about two months ago, which caused him to urinate blood. Doctors advised him then to “take a few weeks off.”

White is arguably the favorite for gold in PyeongChang in February despite finishing a disappointing fourth in Sochi, where he was bidding to three-peat as Olympic halfpipe champion.

White gradually improved last season after taking time off, changing coaches and dropping slopestyle (and his band work).

He was 11th at January’s Winter X Games — his worst finish there since 2000 — but then finished first, second and first in his last three events.

He peaked at the finale, the U.S. Open in Vail, Colo. White landed a cab double cork 1440 and a double McTwist 1260 in one run for the first time, according to The Associated Press.

White is older than any previous U.S. Olympic halfpipe snowboarder but has not ruled out continuing to Beijing 2022.

He’s still staying busy off the snow. White’s Air + Style just announced it will hold a big air event in Australia, about one mile from the Sydney Opera House, in August.

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Ester Ledecka must decide between ski, snowboard worlds

AP
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SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — Skier-snowboarder Ester Ledecka will not be able to follow up her dual sport gold-medal performances at the PyeongChang Olympics with a similar haul of world titles this season.

That’s because the schedule won’t allow it, and she’s not happy about it.

The parallel giant slalom at the world freestyle skiing and snowboard championships in Utah is Feb. 4 — the same day downhill training opens at Alpine skiing worlds in Are, Sweden, and a day before the super-G.

“I was a little bit hoping they would reschedule the snowboard race — put it a week earlier so I could do it both — but they didn’t want to so I have to choose,” Ledecka said Tuesday after placing 29th in a World Cup downhill.

In PyeongChang, Ledecka followed her super-G title by winning the parallel GS in snowboarding — becoming the first athlete to win two golds at one Winter Games using two different types of equipment.

The 23-year-old Czech is the reigning world champion in parallel GS.

Ledecka said she brought up the issue with the International Ski Federation, which governs both sports.

“On one side I see their point. For one athlete why should they do that, right? But from the other side I think I made snowboarding a little more popular, and I think a lot of fans would be happy to see me compete in both,” Ledecka said. “It’s their decision, and I have to respect it.”

Ledecka has not decided which worlds she’ll compete in. She’s currently going back and forth between the snowboard and ski circuits.

Last week, she finished first and second in two parallel GS events in Italy and then switched to downhill skis this week. She was fastest in a downhill training run Monday before finishing 29th in Tuesday’s race.

“I think I can decide right before,” Ledecka said. “But it will probably be early, so I’m well prepared.”

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Sandro Viletta, Olympic super combined champion, retires

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Sandro Viletta, the surprise 2014 Olympic super combined champion, retired from Alpine skiing at age 32 after major injuries, according to the Swiss Ski Federation.

Viletta, who did not defend his Olympic title in PyeongChang, has not raced on the World Cup since tearing a knee ligament in a December 2016 super-G crash. He hasn’t raced anywhere since another knee ligament tear in a lower-level race in March.

Viletta took gold in Sochi despite having one World Cup podium to his name (from more than two years earlier). Viletta was 14th in the downhill part of the Olympic combined, then had the second-fastest slalom to win by. 34 over Croatian Ivica Kostelic.

“I did not think this was possible; I did not expect to win, even after I had the lead today,” Viletta told reporters after the race. “But on one day, I had the perfect day.”

Viletta was the lowest-ranked racer in the downhill to come back to win the Olympic combined since the format changed from two slalom runs to one in 2010. He is Switzerland’s lone Olympic men’s Alpine champion from the last two Winter Games.

The combined’s place at the Olympics and world championships and on the World Cup is in peril as the International Ski Federation has incorporated more parallel slalom and giant slalom races in recent years.

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