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02/10/2018 05:05 am ET Updated Feb 10, 2018

Reigning Gold Medalist Drops Out Of Winter Olympics After Brain Injury

Sochi halfpipe champ Iouri Podladtchikov crashed during a recent X Games event.

He just didn’t want to risk it.

Defending Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Iouri Podladtchikov announced he was dropping out of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, so he can heal from a head injury he sustained last month.

“My brain needs time to recover from the bruises and I will not be able to compete,” he wrote in a tweet posted Saturday. 

Podladtchikov, nicknamed I-Pod, did practice Friday at Phoenix Snow Park, as seen here:

David Ramos via Getty Images

But the Swiss athlete felt something was amiss.

“After all the tests that I have had on the way to the present day in the last two weeks ― including my first practice this Friday ― I can say for sure that starting and participating in the Olympic Games is in no way safe or responsible,” he said in a statement.

The men’s halfpipe begins on Tuesday.

Podladtchikov captured gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and was returning as one of the favorites in South Korea. But a hard fall on his face at X Games Aspen, Colorado, in late January (see below) has ended his hopes of another gold medal.

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