News / Arts & Entertainment

    White's Withdrawal from Olympic Snowboarding Event Highlights Risks

    Shaun White of the United States takes a jump during a Snowboard Slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Shaun White of the United States takes a jump during a Snowboard Slopestyle training session at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Reuters
    With their baggy pants and bandanas, snowboarders are among the coolest competitors at the Winter Olympics, whipping the spectators into a frenzy of excitement with their gravity-defying aerial tricks.

    The daredevil stunts have made them compulsive viewing for a new generation of thrill seekers wanting to push the boundaries of the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

    When everything goes right and they land safely, there are high-fives and fist-pumps all around as the crowds whoop and holler and yell for more.

    But when it goes wrong, it can go badly wrong. Behind all the bravado and cockiness is the chilling realization that snowboarders risk life and limb every time they hurl themselves down the mountain.

    On Wednesday, Shaun White, snowboarding's biggest star, announced he was pulling out of the slopestyle, one of two events he had entered in Sochi, because he feared the course was too dangerous.

    The previous day, White fell during training and hurt his wrist. The American said he pulled out to concentrate on the halfpipe, which he won at the two previous Olympics, but his withdrawal highlighted the real dangers of extreme winter sports.

    On Monday, Norwegian Torstein Horgmo also fell in training and broke his collarbone, ruling him of the Games, though he could count himself among the lucky ones.

    In 2009, Kevin Pearce, one of White's great rivals, was critically injured when he slammed his head on the ice while training in Utah. He spent six days in a coma and months recovering from his brain injuries but was lucky to live.

    In January 2012, Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, a four-times gold medalist at the X-Games, died from injuries she suffered when she hit her head in a fall while training in Utah.

    Less than two months later, another Canadian, Nik Zoricic, died from head injuries at a ski cross race in Switzerland.

    Noone is exempt from injuries. Last month, White fell and hit his head in a warm-up competition, in the latest in a series of injuries he has sustained.

    In 2004, White spent six months in rehabilitation after coming back too soon from knee surgery. In 2009, he chipped a bone in his ankle and missed most of the season.

    Common Injury

    Sweden's Niklas Mattsson finishes his first run during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.Sweden's Niklas Mattsson finishes his first run during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    x
    Sweden's Niklas Mattsson finishes his first run during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Sweden's Niklas Mattsson finishes his first run during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
    Even with helmets, concussions are an increasingly common injury in snowboarding where competitors soar high into the air before attempting to land on a rock-hard, icy slope.

    At the 2009 Winter X Games, America's Gretchen Bleiler, a silver medalist at the 2006 Olympics, was concussed after smacking her head on the ice.

    Last year, at a U.S. Olympic Committee summit in Utah, she spoke about the tiny margin of error that confronts elite snowboarders.

    "It's all about walking a fine line," she said. "You are pushing yourself everyday to make sure you are at the top but not going over the other side. It is a razor sharp edge."

    Bleiler was one of the favorites to win the women's halfpipe in Vancouver but fell in both her runs and missed out of the medals.

    The gold went to Australia's Torah Bright, who flashed a big cheesy smile as the medal was draped around her neck, then revealed how she competed with a thumping headache from an early concussion.

    Scotty Lago won a bronze medal in Vancouver in halfpipe. A few months earlier, he was concussed after a heavy fall in New Zealand, which went viral on Youtube.

    "That is one of the most challenging things, walking the line between doing the tricks you know how to do and are safe and pushing yourself," Lago said.

    "Everyone can go put the work in the gym and go ride the mountain but you have to go out and do the stuff that is pushing the sport and stuff that is going to be next level and scary," he said. "It's all about going out doing those tricks and pretty much surviving and living to ride another day. I feel if you're not scaring yourself, you're kind of not doing it right."

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.