Coach: Shaun White healthy for Olympics
Shaun White headed home from a week of training Sunday, with his coach declaring him “110 percent” healthy for the Olympics.
Bud Keene said White benefited greatly from the four-day session on the private halfpipe and slopestyle course in Copper Mountain.
White, who hurt his left ankle in December, opted against competing in the Winter X Games so he could focus on the tricks he’ll need in Sochi, starting Feb. 6 with slopestyle qualifying.
Keene said White saw one of the world’s top slopestyle riders, Mark McMorris, go down hard and break his rib in X Games finals Saturday. McMorris said he still plans to compete in the Olympics.
“That was certainly unfortunate and we were sad to see that happen to Mark,” Keene told The Associated Press. “Obviously, it’s not the end of the world for him. That highlighted our decision in a good way.”
But, he said, the risk of injury wasn’t the main reason White skipped the X Games.
It was simply the need for more training after a hectic qualifying schedule that included the ankle injury and a nasty fall in a slopestyle qualifier in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Despite all that, White qualified for both events and will have a chance to win a third gold medal in halfpipe and take the first ever awarded in slopestyle.
White will spend a few days at home before heading to Germany.
Slopestyle training starts Feb. 3, with the competition beginning three days later.
The halfpipe contest is Feb. 11.
Asked about White’s overall health, Keene didn’t hesitate: “He’s 110 percent.”
Miller makes Olympic ski team
There were really no surprises when the U.S. Ski Team announced its squad for the Sochi Olympics: Mikaela Shiffrin was on the list and, of course, Lindsey Vonn was not.
Five-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller made his fifth squad Sunday, while 2006 Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso also earned spots. In all, the Americans had nine women and 11 men on the team.
Shiffrin could be the headliner in Russia, especially with Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion for a few more weeks, staying home to recuperate following another operation on her right knee.
The 18-year-old Shiffrin is having quite a season, too, winning three World Cup slalom races.
She will be heavily counted on to help the Americans try to top their record eight-medal haul in Vancouver four years ago.
Too much pressure for someone so young?
“I’m not worried about the Olympics, that it’s going to overwhelm her,” U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. “There’s nothing else she wants right now except success. It was no different than when Lindsey was her age. She was the same way.”
Vonn was trying to get back to the slopes in time for Sochi after tearing two ligaments in her knee during a high-speed crash at the world championships last February.
She was ahead of schedule, too, before re-injuring her surgically repaired ACL in a crash during training in November.
Undeterred, Vonn rested the knee and still hoped to make it back, but sprained her MCL racing a downhill in France on Dec. 21. She later decided to undergo another surgery.