By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov will not be able to defend his Olympic halfpipe title in Pyeongchang due to a brain injury suffered at the Winter X Games last month.
Podladtchikov won halfpipe gold at Sochi four years ago and, despite suffering a head injury and nasal fracture during the fall in Apsen, he had hoped to compete this time around in Pyeongchang.
The Swiss posted a picture on his Instagram account of himself at Pyeongchang's Phoenix Snow Park on Friday morning but, after training on the slope and further tests to determine the extent of the injury, Podladtchikov decided to pull out.
"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," the 29-year-old said in a statement released by the Swiss ski federation.
"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 and responsible."
Podladtchikov will return to Switzerland on Saturday, the statement added.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)