Canadian snowboarders Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot took to Twitter and called out extreme-sports star Shaun White for withdrawing from the slopestyle event at the Olympics.
They deleted the tweets and Toutant apologized. But they weren’t backing down Thursday after the morning qualifications rounds at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
Parrot, who put down the top score of the morning at 97.50 points, had tweeted that White was scared. Toutant, meanwhile, was critical of White’s last-minute decision for a variety of reasons.
“I’m not even hating on Shaun at all,” Toutant said.
He felt that White’s move was not good for the U.S. riders, cutting its men’s snowboard slopestyle team from four to three. There was no alternate named when White pulled out.
“I knew a lot of people were going to retweet it or whatever, but I think a lot of people took it wrong,” Toutant said. “All I was saying is if he decided a couple of months ago that he was going to do slopestyle and halfpipe, he knew there was going to be a lot of risk here and in the pipe.
"To take an American spot and to just not do it, I think it’s bad for Americans. One other guy could have been here competing right now.”
White cited the risk of injury and decided to fully concentrate on the halfpipe. Other slopestyle snowboarders understood White’s decision and did not think his absence hurt the event.
"I don’t think so because he’s a good rider for sure in slopestyle, but I think he’s still not the best slopestyle rider,” Peetu Piiroinen of Finland said. “I’m 100% sure that he is the best pipe rider. If he just lands his run, he will win the pipe.”
Said Toutant: “He’s an amazing rider — he won two golds in the halfpipe. I just [wish] he was here competing with us. No matter what if the setup is sketchy or not.
"We’re here competing. Just come ride with us and we’re having fun.”