[Opening photo: iPod sending it in the pipe and on the podium in Sochi. Mike Weyerhauser]
The reigning gold medallist Iouri ‘IPod’ Podlatchikov has ruled himself out of contention in the men’s halfpipe at the Olympics in Pyeongchang because of a brain injury he received at the X Games last month.
The Swiss stunt-ditch specialist had travelled out to South Korea with the rest of his national team, but after doing one training session and undergoing further tests, he decided that “participating in the Olympic Games is in no way safe and responsible".
"It was clear to me that I had sustained a serious and dangerous injury."
In a statement released by the Swiss ski federation he said: "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." But he’d obviously hoped to be able to push on through.
The crash had been a nasty one though. IPod went down hard on the landing of his final hit in the second run of the X Games final a few weeks back.
While he’s obviously absolutely gutted that he won’t be competing, in the light of Kevin Pearce’s life-changing injury in 2009 we’d have to say this sounds like a sensible decision.
Concussion is no joke, and while Onboard is far from medically qualified, we know enough to know that repeat concussions can make any existing issues exponentially worse.
With Iouri out, though, the field is also clearer for the likes of Ayumu Hirano, Scotty James and Shaun White, who are surely now the best-placed contenders for the gold medal.
Whether or not the Swiss rider could have thrown down a run to beat the back-to-back 1440s followed by back-to-back 12s that we saw at the X Games is uncertain. But we’re gutted that we won’t get a chance to see him try. Heal up that melon good and quick, Iouri.