Winter Olympics: Shaun White ends career as Ayumu Hirano wins halfpipe gold

Winter Olympics: Shaun White ends career as Ayumu Hirano wins halfpipe gold

Hosts: Beijing, China Dates: 4-20 FebruaryCoverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds; live text and highlights on BBC Sport website and mobile appShaun White’s glittering snowboarding career came to an end without a medal in Beijing as Japan’s Ayumu Hirano…

Hosts: Beijing, China Dates: 4-20 February
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds; live text and highlights on BBC Sport website and mobile app

Shaun White’s glittering snowboarding career came to an end without a medal in Beijing as Japan’s Ayumu Hirano finally won Olympic halfpipe gold.

Third time proved the charm for 23-year-old Hirano, who won silver at the past two Games, as a 96.00 score on his final run landed him top spot.

Australia’s Scotty James won silver with 92.50, while Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer’s 87.25 earned him bronze.

Three-time champion White, 35, was fourth at his fifth and final Olympics.

“Everybody’s asking me what’s my legacy? I think you’re seeing it,” the tearful American told BBC Sport.

“I’m proud of these guys, and the women too. To see the progression from where it started to where it is today, and to have a helping hand in that and see where they take it from here, but it’s been amazing.

“Ayumu and Scotty have been on my heels this whole time, and they finally got me.”

Emotional White bids farewell to Olympics

Friday’s final at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou marked the end of an era for the sport as White brought the curtains down on a career that has also heralded 13 snowboarding X-Games titles.

Nicknamed the ‘Flying Tomato’ courtesy of his flowing red hair at his first Games in Turin in 2006, White became snowboarding’s first three-time Olympic champion in Pyeongchang four years ago.

With a huge crowd of team members, officials and volunteers gathered to watch in China, he landed his first two runs in the final, scoring a best of 85.00, but could not propel himself into the medals on his third, a fall ending his career in a manner nobody wanted.

He removed his helmet and soaked in the acclaim and applause as he slid down the rest of the pipe, visibly emotional as he was embraced by Scherrer at the bottom.

“I’m not sad, I’m happy,” White added. “What a life, what a career, what a legacy to leave behind.

“It’s not about today, it’s about a whole lifetime of this sport.

“Thank you snowboarding, it’s been my life.”

Hirano makes triple cork history

Ayumu Hirano
Ayumu Hirano won gold after successive silvers at the last two Olympics

In a final that went down to the wire, Hirano became the first boarder to land the hallowed triple cork at the Olympics – a 1,440 degree spin on the horizontal axis whilst corkscrewing the rotation, meaning the head dips under the board three times.

But the remainder of the first of his three runs was unclean, as was James’, leaving them ninth and 10th respectively after the opener.

Hirano again landed the triple cork on a clean second run, but the judges ruled James’ efforts higher, putting the 27-year-old – bronze medallist in Pyeongchang – top of the standings heading into the finale.

But James – wearing his trademark red ‘boxing’ mitts – slipped up on his third run, leaving the door wide open for Hirano, who competed in skateboarding at the Tokyo summer Olympics, to snatch the gold, adding another triple cork for good measure.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet but finally one of my childhood dreams has come true,” said Hirano.

“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.

“Everyone was here at this final and they pushed me, providing me with great motivation.”

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