Sochi Olympic gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov won’t be able to defend his Olympic halfpipe title due to injuries sustained last month during the Winter X Games, the Swiss Ski Federation confirmed On Friday.
The 29-year-old Swiss snowboarder suffered a brain injury and a nasal fracture during a fall towards the end of January in Aspen, landing hard on his face at the bottom of the pipe. Despite this, he had hoped to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Known as the I-Pod, Podladtchikov traveled to South Korea with the hopes of participating. However, after practicing on Friday, the Russian-born snowboarder decided he could not compete.
“When I received this diagnosis, it was clear to me that I had sustained a serious and dangerous injury and that participating in the Olympic Games would pose a great risk to my health,” Podladtchikov, who will travel back to Switzerland on Saturday, was quoted as saying by the Swiss Ski Federation as saying. “After all the tests that I have made on the way to the present day in the last two weeks - including my first practice this Friday - I can say with certainty that starting and participating in the Olympic Games is in no way safe and responsible. My state of health remains far too unstable to allow me to compete at the level of Olympic competition".
Hopes for James, White and Hirano
With Podladtchikov out of the half pipe competition, the medals are likely to be decided between Japanese Sochi’s silver medalist, Ayumu Hirano, North American two-time Olympic Champion Shaun White and Australian flag-bearer Scotty James.