Updated: Tuesday, 04 February 2014 23:08 | By Agence France-Presse

Slopestyle course 'intimidating', admits US ace White

American double Olympic champion Shaun White admitted on Monday that Sochi's daunting slopestyle course which has already claimed two injury victims presented an "intimidating" challenge.


Slopestyle course 'intimidating', admits US ace White

Shaun White attempts a rail slide at Mammoth Mountain Resort on January 16, 2014 in Mammoth, California - by Harry How

But White, the 27-year-old X Games pioneer, who has undergone a succession of knee and ankle injuries, insisted that the spectacular sport was full of dangers.

"It's intimidating. You know any time you show up to a course you have to learn the speed, the distance from the jumps and what the rails are like. It's been a challenge," said White.

"Any time you step out on a course there's a certain amount of danger, there's a certain element of risk you put yourself in for. 

"Maybe this course might have a little bit more than others, but we're trying to figure it out. We're trying to get through the course, be safe and have a great Olympics."

White, the halfpipe champion in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010, is looking for a record third gold in the discipline as well as hoping to capture the inaugural slopestyle title.

But the sport in which competitors perform on a slope featuring various forms of obstacles -- rails, quarterpipes, and jumps -- has been blasted as too dangerous by a succession of athletes.

Finnish snowboarder Marika Enne on Tuesday became the second crash victim of the course.

The 21-year-old Enne crash-landed on the final jump, hitting the snow and tumbling forward on a course widely condemned as too dangerous. 

She was able to complete her run, but was then carried away on a stretcher.

"She hit her head," Finland team coach Mats Lindfors said.

On Monday, Norway's Torstein Horgmo, who had been a gold medal favourite, was ruled out of the Olympics after suffering a broken collar bone following a spectacular crash.

The 26-year-old crashed on the rail feature of the slopestyle run at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, an accident which forced course builders to make radical changes to some of the jumps overnight.

The alterations followed a meeting of snowboarders in the aftermath of Horgmo's crash.

Australia's defending halfpipe champion, Torah Bright, tweeted a photograph of the athletes meeting on the course.

"Riders discussing much needed changes to slope style. Changes have been made overnight. Heading up now to check it!," wrote Bright, who is chasing three golds at the Olympics.

White said he felt sympathy for Horgmo.

"It's always disappointing when you see a fellow rider go down and is unable to compete. It's definitely intimidating when you've got to run the same course right after him," added the American.

Meanwhile, some riders gave a guarded weclome to the changes at the course.

"The rails are much better so that you can see more tricks, rather than just trying to survive," said Switzerland's Isabel Derungs.

"On every new course, you have to ride it first and see things that could be changed."

"It's not only about the risk, it's about the athletes that want the changes."

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