Shaun White made Winter X snowboarding history with his six-peat in the superpipe Sunday night, but in the end it was a 14-year-old from Japan who stole the show, as the crowd was left wondering if they just saw the next Shaun White.
Amazingly, Ayumu Hirano, making his Winter X Games debut, pulled off a 92.33 in his second run for the silver medal, becoming the youngest to medal at Winter X and undoubtedly making a statement that he’s going to be someone to reckon with come 2014 in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Hirano entered Aspen as the youngest snowboarder to ever compete in the superpipe at Winter X. Below is a look at his very impressive silver-medal run that left X Games commentator Kevin Pearce in awe. Note the amplitude of his final move:
Not surprisingly, White became the first snowboarder to win six consecutive gold medals in superpipe, putting down an effortless second run that included him soaring to a record-setting 24 feet, 1 inch on a backside air and a scoring a 98 after a 95 on his first run.
So, what was the first on-air question to White after the competition? It was about Hirano (seen in the photos above and right).
“I’m proud of him,” White told ESPN. “I asked his age at the top actually. I was surprised to see him doing so well. Gosh, my first time at X Games I could barely drop in my knees were shaking and everything. It’s awesome for him and I’m sure he’s going to be around for a while.”
So the event’s oldest competitor–White, age 26–took gold (his eighth in superpipe at Winter X and his 12th straight victory overall in a superpipe competition), and the event’s youngest competitor–Hirano–took silver.
Here’s a look at White’s 98-point run:
White joined snowmobiler Tucker Hibbert as the only competitors to ever six-peat at Winter X. Hibbert completed his six-peat earlier Sunday. Afterward, White talked about winning six straight.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more focused and more in tune with what I’m doing physically as well as mentally,” White told ESPN. “Six years, that’s pretty heavy. It’s going to be more uncomfortable next year when I’m going for the seventh. I like it; it’s a pretty humbling title to hold. I’m proud.”
Markus Malin of Finland earned the bronze with a 91.33. It was the first medal of his X Games career.
But clearly, the story was about the first medal won by Hirano, and what the future might hold.
Photos of Ayumu Hirano courtesy of ESPN
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