Flak for White but slopestyle safety no problem
By Nick Mulvenney
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Shaun White was not forgotten as slopestyle snowboarding got the Sochi Olympics underway on Thursday but while there was disappointment at his absence, there were no echoes of the safety concerns that prompted his withdrawal.
White, the biggest name in the extreme sport, pulled out of the slopestyle on Wednesday to concentrate on his halfpipe title defense, citing safety concerns after jamming his hand in practice on the "intimidating" course earlier in the week.
In an event which borrows some of its tricks and attitude from skateboarding, it was little surprise that the twice Olympic halfpipe champion came in for some trash-talk from his fellow competitors.
Canadians Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant led the way with tweets suggesting American White had pulled out because he was scared not of injury but of losing.
"Mr. White... It's easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can't win...," read Toutant's tweet.
While Parrot stood by his comment, Toutant later deleted his message and said it had been misinterpreted.
"I posted what I have to say," he told reporters after finishing third in Thursday's first heat to book himself a place in the final.
"I deleted the tweet because some people took it the wrong way. Continued...