Ayumu Hirano made Japanese sporting history Feb. 11 when he won the country’s first Olympic snowboarding gold medal, taking the men’s halfpipe title at the Beijing Games.
Hirano scored 96.00 points in his third run with a spectacular display that included a triple cork 1440, enough to separate him from Australian Scotty James, who finished in the silver position with 92.50 at Genting Snow Park. Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer took bronze.
Hirano won snowboard halfpipe silvers at the 2014 and 2018 Games, then switched to the skateboard and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics before a triumphant return to his roots.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but finally one of my childhood dreams has come true,” the 23-year-old said. “I couldn’t end without getting this one, I gave everything.”
Hirano’s triple cork 1440 was the first landed in Olympic competition, and he did it on each run.
His perfect second trip down the halfpipe looked worthy of gold, but the judges thought it only deserved 91.75 points, which left him in second behind James. The score was met with loud boos from the spectators at the venue.
Hirano took things into his own hands in his final run, putting down the triple cork 1440 perfectly again and throwing in two more 1440s and two 1220s. (Kyodo, Reuters)