Star snowboarder Torstein Horgmo out of Sochi Olympics; slopestyle course criticized

Torstein Horgmo

Torstein Horgmo in action at Copper Mountain, Colorado, last December; photo courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

When slopestyle makes its Olympic debut this week at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, it’ll be without star snowboarder Torstein Horgmo.

The 26-year-old Norwegian, who had been one of the podium favorites, suffered a broken collarbone while training on Monday and will not compete.

The slopestyle course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park had fallen under criticism by male and female snowboarders, who said some of the kickers, or jumps, were too dangerous. (Slopestyle involves performing tricks on rails and other terrain park features, and while soaring off large jumps.)

The New York Times reported Monday that changes proposed by athletes will be implemented before the Games begin on Friday. Medal events for snowboard slopestyle are Saturday (men's) and Sunday (women's). The Associated Press also is reporting that the course will be modified.

Horgmo3Finland's Roope Tonteri, the 2013 slopestyle world champion, described the course as "pretty sketchy." He added: "I think they wanted to make big kickers, and it's not really good for riders, and it's not really safe. I just don't want to get injured. It's not a really fun course to ride."

Irish snowboarder Seamus O'Connor told reporters: "They overbuilt the jumps because they were anticipating that the snow would melt. The rails up top are too close. It's pretty dangerous at the moment."

Horgmo's crash occurred on a rail section near the top of the course.

Per-Iver Grimsrud, Norway's team coach, told Reuters: “It was on the first rail element it happened. He was doing a switch hardway, backside 270. He landed wrong on the rail, and then he fell into the stairs to the side.”

Horgmo, winner of the 2013 X Games big-air competition, was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where his injury was diagnosed.

“Injuries and falls are part of this sport, but the timing is really bad,” he said in a statement issued by the Norwegian team.

Shaun White, a two-time Olympic halfpipe gold medalist, is among the gold-medal favorites in slopestyle. His main competition, especially with Horgmo on the sidelines, will be Canada's Mark McMorris.

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