Japanese 14 year-old Ayumu Hirano‘s rise has been swift. Only two years ago he was poaching runs as a junior at the US Open aged 12. This year, thanks in part to ongoing support from his friend/mentor Kazu Kokubo, he took on the big guns and beat most of them, taking silver behind Shaun White at Winter X Games in Aspen with a flawless run!
He certainly put paid to the notion that little dudes can’t go big and in the media storm that followed, Ayumu found himself cast as a kin of Jack the giant-slayer. This was music to the ears of those hoping for an end to Shaun White’s gingery pipe domination, and the battle lines have been drawn. Somewhat unfortunately, Shaun couldn’t make the X Games in Tignes because of other commitments, and Ayumu was too ill to compete so we were robbed of the chance to see them go head to head again, but we’re already looking forward to the next time we do. With the season starting again last month Hirano has already notched a first place in FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup event in Cardrona, so be prepared for the hype to begin again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iixfNuMz6sI