ZHANGJIAKOU  -  Ayumu Hirano of Japan claimed the men’s snowboard halfpipe title at Beijing 2022 with a high score of 96.00 points here on Friday. 

Australia’s Scotty James pocketed the silver medal and Jan Scherrer of Switzerland took the bronze. 23-year-old Hirano had a bad landing in his first run and took only 33.75 points. In his second run, Hirano performed a triple cork 1440 and two double cork 1440s to gain 91.75 points, but lagged behind James by 0.75 points. The gap motivated the Japanese to an impeccable performance in the third run to seal the win.

“I did what I wanted to do right at the end, I wasn’t able to accept the second run’s score but I managed to express my anger well at the end,” he said. “It wasn’t nervousness, but I had a different feeling from usual. I was ready to take the plunge and give all, and it was great to finish it off cleanly.” 

A two-time Olympic Winter Games silver medalist, Hirano made the history for Japan again as he finally turned the color of his medal to gold. At Sochi 2014, he became the Games’ youngest ever snowboarding medalist at 15 years and 74 days, winning Japan’s first medal in the sport. At PyeongChang 2018, he narrowly missed out on gold as American Shaun White overtook him on his final run. “To become the Olympic champion has always been my dream. Today, my dream finally came true,” said Hirano. 

Silver medalist James described Hirano as “an incredible rider.” “I look forward to having many, many healthy battles with him in the future,” he said. Hirano’s younger brother Kaishu also competed in the final, ranking ninth in the final table. 

“Being able to compete with my brother is kind of promotion for both of us, which made us more powerful and left us a good memory,” said the champion.