ASPEN, Colo. — Shaun White headed home from a week of training Sunday, with his coach declaring him “110 percent” healthy for the Olympics despite that nasty-looking shiner under the snowboarder’s right eye.
Bud Keene said White benefited greatly from the four-day session on the private halfpipe and slopestyle course in Copper Mountain, where he landed hard and face-first into an air bag while practicing Saturday.
White posted a picture of the damage on his Instagram account Sunday.
He also has been nursing his left ankle, which he sprained in December during the season’s first Olympic qualifier. He 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, where the U.S. Olympic Committee will give athletes final paperwork and instructions before sending them on charter flights to Sochi.
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.”