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Shaun White ends Olympic skateboarding bid

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VAIL, Colo. (AP) — If the world sees Shaun White at an Olympics again, it will be in 2022, not later this year.

The three-time snowboarding champion told The Associated Press that he is taking skateboarding off his plate and won’t try to qualify for that sport’s Olympic debut later this year in Tokyo.

“The decision became less about going for skate and more about, am I willing to walk away from snow?” White said this weekend while attending the Burton U.S. Open. “It just was going in that direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it, and I can’t wholeheartedly choose this path with what I’ve got going on snow.”

White, who for years was every bit as successful a skateboarder as a snowboarder, had been dangling the possibility of joining the rare group of athletes to compete in both Winter and Summer Games.

He has long excelled in vert contests, which most resemble a snowboard halfpipe competition, but is not part of the Olympic program.

He was trying to make the switch to park, which combine halfpipes and quarterpipes with stairs and rails. White headed to Brazil last summer to compete at skateboarding world championships, where he finished 13th.

He thought about it for a while and realized the work he’d have to put in to compete against full-time skateboarders for an Olympic spot would compromise his chances of returning to the Winter Games in Beijing for a shot at a fourth gold medal.

“It doesn’t mean I’m committed to going to China, but it doesn’t feel too far-fetched for me,” said the 33-year-old White. “I still feel great and that’s where it got left for me. I’m dipping back into snow, and doing what feels right.”

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U.S. snowboarders shut out of X Games Aspen halfpipe medals for first time

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The first two Winter X Games events came and went without an American medalist, a historic opening to the 24th annual event in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.

Australian Scotty James won the men’s halfpipe for a third time, extending his winning streak to 10 contests since the start of the 2018-19 season.

James, the Olympic bronze medalist, landed a switch backside double 1260, cab 1080, frontside 900 grabbing nose and a double backside 1260 (video here). He was followed by Yuto Totsuka of Japan and Jan Scherrer of Switzerland. Scores were not posted on the broadcast. Rather, a new, 30-minute jam session format had judges ranking riders fluidly.

Though the U.S. had five in the eight-man final, none made the halfpipe podium for the first time at an Aspen X Games. The event has been held there since 2002.

Records before that are hard to find, but it’s possible it’s the first time in X Games history (since 1997) anywhere in the United States that an American man did not make a halfpipe podium.

Shaun White, an eight-time X Games halfpipe champion, last won in 2013 and announced after PyeongChang that he was taking a break from snowboarding.

White announced a bid last summer to make the first Olympic skateboarding team, but it’s unknown if he’s still pursuing that after finishing 13th at the world championships in September, trailing the Americans favored to make the team. More of his social media posts in recent weeks have been snowboarding related.

Later Thursday, Japanese swept the women’s big air podium: Miyabi Onitsuka, Kokomo Murase and Reira Iwabuchi. Olympic champions Jamie Anderson of the U.S. and Anna Gasser of Austria finished seventh and eighth in the eight-woman field, each falling on most of their runs.

Gasser, who in November 2018 became the first woman to land a triple cork, tried four triple underflips and fell each time.

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Torah Bright, Olympic champion, no longer competing in halfpipe

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Torah Bright, a 2010 Olympic halfpipe champion and a force in snowboarding for a decade, will no longer compete in halfpipe or the Olympics.

Bright, a 33-year-old expecting her first child in July, is “happy having left the competitions behind,” according to the Aspen (Colo.) Times. Bright’s longtime agent confirmed the report.

“I much prefer to cheer people on than to compete myself,” Bright said, according to the report. “It’s way less stressful. So it’s been fun to know the people who are still competing and love them and cheer them on and watch them do their best.”

Bright is arguably Australia’s greatest Winter Olympian. She toppled Americans Kelly ClarkHannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler for gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, winning from last place after the first of two runs. Bright landed a switch backside 720, coming back after she sustained three concussions in the five weeks before the Games.

In 2014, she took silver behind another American, Kaitlyn Farrington, in Sochi while becoming the first snowboarder to compete in three disciplines (halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboard cross).

Bright scantly competed after Sochi and was left off Australia’s team for PyeongChang. She returned to competition two months before the Olympics for the first time in nearly two years and saw her hopes dashed when she picked up a reported wrist injury.

Bright’s last halfpipe competition was an eighth-place finish at the January 2018 Laax Open in Switzerland.

Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that Bright retired. Bright is no longer competing in halfpipe or the Olympics but does plan to compete in other events.

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