It's a setback to the U.S. Olympic team, but prominent San Antonio hand and wrist physician Dr. Paul Pace with the San Antonio Orthopaedic Group says colorful American snowboarder Shaun White made a wise move to skip the slopestyle event following a wrist injury, so he can focus on the higher profile half pipe.
"He did not want to commit to this new course, because he views it as more dangerous," Pace told 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason.
White, a fearless performer who is known as the 'Flying Tomato' for the amazing jumps and twists he performs on his snowboard, is probably the best known member of the U.S. team after the withdrawal last month of downhill skier Lindsay Vonn, so his departure from the slopestyle, a new Olympic event, will be a setback for NBC. But Dr. Pace says White clearly understands the inherent dangers of his sport, and knows that one more wrist tweak could leave him on the sidelines in Sochi.
"He has probably a partial ligament injury," he said. "He'll do the half pipe with a splint or a cast on."
White is the reigning Olympic champion in the half pipe, and his major goal at the Winter Olympics is to become the first American athlete to grab gold in three consecutive Winter Games, a goal that Dr. Pace agrees would be in jeopardy if he were to compete in the Slopestyle.
"Obviously, he uses that hand for stabilizing and doing the crazy aerobatic tricks he does," Dr. Pace said. "And he'll probably already be in a cast."