After winning silver at back-to-back Olympics, Ayumu Hirano is finally a gold medalist.
The 22-year-old snowboarding star from Japan landed triple corks on all three of his runs, but it was his final one — the final run of the contest — that knocked Australia’s Scotty James off the top of the leaderboard in the men’s snowboard halfpipe final.
Entering the day, the triple cork was the most-talked-about trick in snowboarding, as it was widely assumed that it would be necessary to win gold at the Olympics. Ayumu Hirano was the only rider who had landed the trick in a competition, but entering the day he had never landed a full run that included the trick. Two of his teammates, Ruka Hirano and Yuto Totsuka, have landed it while training but never in a contest, and it’s rumored that other riders had been working on the triple cork as well.
Proving that he had the trick on lock, Hirano was the only rider to even attempt the triple cork. He landed it on Run 1 but fell on one of his other tricks. Then he bounced back on Run 2, landing a full run that included the triple cork for the first time in his career. It wasn’t enough for the first place though, as the judges placed him second behind James, who had previously landed a very technical run which included a switch backside 1260 and double cork 1440 on the first two hits.
That left Hirano with one last attempt to break his streak of his silver medals. With everything on the line, he dropped in and landed an even cleaner version of his run, and this time the judges gave him a massive score, a 96.00, to push him into the lead and onto the top step of the podium.
That result bumped James down to the silver medal position, while Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer took the bronze. Shaun White finished just off the podium in fourth in his final Olympic competition.
SEE MORE: Scotty James wins silver medal with technical halfpipe run
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