On Friday morning in South Korea, defending Olympic halfpipe snowboard gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov announced via statement that he would be withdrawing from competition due to a head injury he suffered a little more than two weeks ago at the Winter X Games.
“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, known as “I-Pod,” said in a statement released by the Swiss ski federation.
“After all the tests that I have had on the way to the present day in the last two weeks – including my first practice this Friday – I can say for sure that starting and participating in the Olympic Games is in no way safe and responsible.”
On January 28 at the Winter X Games, Podladtchikov hit his head at the bottom of the halfpipe and was down for nearly 10 minutes while a medical staff strapped him to a stretcher.
Podladtchikov has been at the top of the snowboarding world since winning his first World Cup title in 2008. A medal eluded him in the 2010 Vancouver Games, where he finished fourth, but that same year, at the Winter X Games in Europe, Podladtchikov landed a Double McTwist 1260, becoming just the fourth person at the time to land it.
Most recently, Podladtchikov became known for patenting what’s been called the “YOLO Flip,” a Cab double cork 1440, which sent the top snowboarders in the world, including U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, actively attempting to add it to their own repertoires.
With Podladtchikov officially out — he’ll leave South Korea on Saturday — the leading contenders have been whittled to White, a two-time gold medalist, 2014 silver medalist Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James, who also served as the Aussies’ flag-bearer for the Opening Ceremony.
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