Men’s Olympic Halfpipe Finals | Hirano Lands Triple Cork 14 In Pipe To Claim Gold

In one of the best snowboard halfpipe finals ever, Japan's Ayumu Hirano finally claims Olympic Gold

Ho-ly shit. Say what you will about halfpipe, the Olympics, and triple corks, but that was pretty special. Ayumu Hirano put an end to his Olympic gold medal drought while landing the first ever triple cork 1440 in snowboard halfpipe Olympic history, a visibly emotional Shaun White put on a masterclass at the age of 35 in his final competitive contest but was just pipped to the medal position by Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer, and Kaishu Hiranu graced our television screens with one of the best methods of all time. Here’s how it all went down:

Heat 1:

Japan’s Kaishu Hiranu (Ayumu’s little bro) set the tone for the contest when he came full gas into the pipe and launched one of the biggest and best freeze-frame methods we’ve ever seen. Seriously, Hiranu almost landed in a different time zone by the time he came back into the transition.

Kaishu Hirano going MASSIVE on the first hit

When Shaun White’s turn came to drop, he delivered a previously never before seen run – more reminiscent on the Shaun from previous Olympics than his current season on the world cup circuit, throwing down a textbook backside Tomahawk 1260, which he first landed in the 2014 Games.

BBC commentator Ed Leigh summed it up perfectly: “It’s a bit like petting a labrador. He seemed so harmless – you almost felt sorry for him. And here he turns up and pulls out close to one of his best runs”.

When the heavy hitters lined up to drop in, Ruka Hirano, Scotty James and Ayumu Hirano all failed to put their runs down, and the leaderboard looked wide open.

First Heat standings

Heat 2

Things only got spicier in the second heat. Switzerland’s Pat Burgener took a slam that broke the topsheet of his snowboard, Yuto Totsuka recovered from a potential season ender with the most heart in mouth moment of the contest as he caught a toe edge on his re-entry into the pipe transition and, would you believe it, Shaun upped his second run to score an 85 and nudge him up the leaderboard into the silver medal position… for now.

Scotty James grabbing the top spot… for now.

Despite another Ruka crash, Scotty came out firing for round two and after opening with a huge 900, secured the top spot with a suer technical run, linking Sw backside 12, Cab 14, Backside 12, and even cranking up some style points with a tail grab on his last 14.

2nd Heat Standings

Heat 3

And so, it was all to play for in the third and final heat. And genuinely wide open, too. Kaishu Hiranu once again opened up with one of the best methods we’ve probably ever seen in halfpipe history, prompting one of the best lines of commentary in Olympic history from Ed Leigh too: “They need Attenborough to commentate on that. It was like watching a bald eagle soar through the Chugach mountains of Alaska.”

Jan Scherrer was unable to put his third run together, but secured enough points in his previous run to come away with a surprise bronze medal.

When it was Shaun’s turn to drop, he opened strong, looking to build on his 85.00, but unfortunately fell. Not the way anyone wanted to see his competitive snowbaording career end, least of all him, as he was filled with emotion at the bottom of his run. Even so, what a performance from the 35-year-old, and what a career and legacy to leave behind. Chapeau, Shaun.

A visibly emotional Shaun White, as he calls time on his competitive career

Ruka Hirano fell for the third time, leaving history to be made by either Scotty James or Ayumu Hirano. It was the Japanese rider’s day, as he dropped in for his final run stomping three 1440s, and a frontside and backside 1260. The run would land him a 96.00 and secure him his first Olympic gold medal.

Hirano winning his first Olympic Gold medal

It will go down as one of the best Olympic snowboard halfpipe finals of all time. A stacked roster of riders, an Olympic first with a triple cork, and an incredible and unexpected performance from one of snowboarding’s greats. And not a knee grab in sight.

Final results
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