ASPEN, Colo. -- Shaun White's planned return to the podium in men's Snowboard Slopestyle at the Winter X Games will have to wait.
After taking practice runs Friday morning before the elimination round, White deemed his sprained left ankle too much of a liability, and left the Winter X Games 2012 venue at Buttermilk as the competition started.
White was treated by X Games medical staff Thursday after aggravating a sprained ankle, but had been cleared to ride.
"I'm disappointed. My priority this year was to ride in Slopestyle, and unfortunately I hit my ankle again riding the course in today's practice," White told ESPN Friday. "I'm going to rest up and get ready to ride Pipe on Sunday."
White dominated the Slopestyle event at Winter X Games with four straight victories (2003 to 2006) and again in 2009. He took a break in 2010 to focus on halfpipe events leading up to the Vancouver Games, where he won his second Olympic gold.
He returned to Slopestyle at Winter X Games in 2011, but missed the cut for the finals, finishing 13th.
Coming into Aspen, he had hoped to re-establish himself as a Slopestyle threat as he begins working on a new Olympic dream: Slopestyle will make its Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games.
But as much as he loves Olympic glory, White says the Winter X Games are still the ultimate proving ground for a snowboarder.
"Every year we try to outdo ourselves, and X Games is the place where we like to display what we've been working on," White said at a news conference Wednesday, the first day of Winter X Games 2012. "Especially for me, this is it. This is where I want to come and I want to do my best tricks and show the other riders what I've been working on. That's definitely why we're here, to step it up."
White still has one more major goal this weekend, assuming his ankle holds out. On Sunday, he's going for a fifth-straight victory in men's Snowboard SuperPipe.
White has won 16 medals at Winter X Games, the most of any competitor, and 11 of them are gold.
Colin Bane is a freelance writer for ESPN Action Sports and XGames.com.