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White opts out of X Games due to Sochi

Jan 9, 2014; Breckenridge, CO, USA; Shaun White of the United States during slopestyle qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix at Breckenridge Sk
Jan 9, 2014; Breckenridge, CO, USA; Shaun White of the United States during slopestyle qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix at Breckenridge Sk

(Reuters) - Olympic snowboarding champion Shaun White has decided not to compete at this week's X Games in Aspen in order to focus on his preparations for the Sochi Winter Games, ESPN reported on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old Californian, who won gold in the men's halfpipe at each of the past two Winter Olympics, will represent the United States in halfpipe and slopestyle in Sochi.

He had planned to compete at the X Games as well but changed his mind at the last minute.

"I've been competing in the X Games since I was 13 years old, they are a huge part of why I am where I am and they are vital to the sport," White told ESPN after a practice session on the slopestyle course at Buttermilk Mountain.

"Unfortunately, when I arrived at the mountain and looked over the schedule, I knew I wasn't going to be able to complete the kind of training I know I need in order to prepare for Sochi.

White is chasing two gold medals in Sochi after slopestyle was added to the Olympic program for the first time.

Competing in both events poses a difficult challenge because of the extra workload and demands on his time.

He had initially planned to miss the X Games then decided to compete before changing his mind a final time.

"It's an incredibly tough decision for me and it's not something I take lightly," he said.

"But I have to make sure I'm prepared for the Olympics."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Julian Linden)

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