Defending Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov out with brain injury

On Friday morning in South Korea, defending Olympic halfpipe snowboard gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov announced via statement that he would be withdrawing from competition due to a head injury he suffered a little more than two weeks ago at the Winter X Games.

“When I received this diagnosis, it was clear to me that I had sustained a serious and dangerous injury and that participating in the Olympic Games would pose a great risk to my health,” Podladtchikov, known as “I-Pod,” said in a statement released by the Swiss ski federation.

“After all the tests that I have had on the way to the present day in the last two weeks – including my first practice this Friday – I can say for sure that starting and participating in the Olympic Games is in no way safe and responsible.”

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Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov will not be competing in PyeongChang. (AP)
Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov will not be competing in PyeongChang. (AP)

On January 28 at the Winter X Games, Podladtchikov hit his head at the bottom of the halfpipe and was down for nearly 10 minutes while a medical staff strapped him to a stretcher.

Podladtchikov has been at the top of the snowboarding world since winning his first World Cup title in 2008. A medal eluded him in the 2010 Vancouver Games, where he finished fourth, but that same year, at the Winter X Games in Europe, Podladtchikov landed a Double McTwist 1260, becoming just the fourth person at the time to land it.

Most recently, Podladtchikov became known for patenting what’s been called the “YOLO Flip,” a Cab double cork 1440, which sent the top snowboarders in the world, including U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, actively attempting to add it to their own repertoires.

With Podladtchikov officially out — he’ll leave South Korea on Saturday — the leading contenders have been whittled to White, a two-time gold medalist, 2014 silver medalist Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James, who also served as the Aussies’ flag-bearer for the Opening Ceremony.

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