Shaun White’s road to Winter Olympics halfpipe gold just got easier with I-Pod out

Written By | Nate Peterson

Shaun White skipped last month’s Winter X Games while battling the flu to fully focus on the Pyeongchang Winter Games. That decision is looking better now that Olympic halfpipe champion Iouri Podladtchikov — more commonly known as I-Pod — won’t defend his title due to injuries he sustained during a nasty fall in the X Games halfpipe final.

According to the Associated Press, I-Pod practiced on the Olympic halfpipe Friday, but said afterward that it would be “totally unreasonable” for him to compete.

I-Pod, 29, who was born in Russia but competes for Switzerland, slammed his face against the halfpipe while attempting a 1260-degree flip at the end of a run. His legs crumpled upon re-entry and his head smacked the lower part of the halfpipe wall, leaving him motionless at the bottom of the pipe.

After medical personnel rushed to a motionless  Podladtchikov, they took about 20 minutes to stabilize Podladtchikov’s neck and strap him into a sled to be taken to Aspen Valley Hospital. In a statement, the X Games said CT scans were negative for a brain or neck injury but that Podladtchikov suffered a nasal fracture.

He said his most recent MRI “certainly showed some improvements. But my state of health remains far too unstable to allow me to compete at the level of Olympic competition.”

That narrows the list of serious  contenders for gold to three, barring a major shocker: White, the two-time gold medalist, 2014 silver medalist Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James.

White’s focus this season has been on the Olympics.

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