Horror fall puts major Scotty James rival out of Winter Olympics

The task for Australian Scotty James may have just gotten a little easier, with Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov not 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 ther US city of Apsen, he had hoped to compete this time around.

The Swiss posted a picture on his Instagram account of himself at PyeongChang's Phoenix Snow Park on Friday morning, the day of the opening ceremony.

But, after training on the slope and having 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 and James shared a podium in March. Pic: Getty

The injury could open the door for James, who has starred in the sport over the past three years, winning two world titles and several World Cup medals to be one of Australia's strongest medal hopes in PyeongChang.

He'll battle it out with American two-time Olympic champion Shaun White, who narrowly beat him at a recent World Cup event in the US, and Ayumu Hirano.

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