Shaun White, Amid Bolder Tricks and Bigger Risks, Keeps Up and Wins Gold

The quest for more complex tricks is coded in the DNA of adrenaline-seeking athletes like White, passed down from generation to generation.

“It’s just the evolution of the sport,” White said.

But in pushing the envelope, the athletes are also pushing their own luck.

Conspicuously absent from the competition was the 2014 Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov, who withdrew last week because of the lingering effects of a head injury that he sustained during a fall at last month’s Winter X Games in Colorado. Podladtchikov, 29, participated in one practice at Phoenix Snow Park before releasing a statement saying it was “in no way safe or responsible” for him to compete. On Twitter, Podladtchikov wrote, “Unfortunately, my brain needs time to recover from the bruises and I will not be able to compete.”

A gloom fell over the halfpipe on Wednesday when 16-year-old Yuto Totsuka, the youngest finalist, ricocheted off the wall during his second run and spun out. He landed hard on his side, injuring his hip. He was tended to by paramedics, who immobilized him on a sled and carted him off the course. Japan’s team manager said Totsuka was conscious and had been taken to a nearby hospital. His injuries were not deemed to be serious.

The day

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