Hirano wins halfpipe gold in Beijing; American Shaun White finishes 4th

Associated Press

Japan's Ayumu Hirano has won gold with a boundary-pushing run in the men's halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics. Three-time gold medalist Shaun White was fourth in what he has said would be his final competition.

Japan's Kaishu Hirano competes during the men's halfpipe finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.

There was no doubt over the winner after Hirano’s electric performance as the last rider to go. His run included an intricate and unprecedented series of flips and spins that pushed a sport obsessed with progression to new heights. His score of 96 reflected that and the two-time Olympic silver medalist moved past Scotty James of Australia. Jan Scherrer of Switzerland took bronze.

White fell on the final run of a career that’s seen the American star win three Olympic titles. He lifted up his goggles and waved to the crowd on his way down the halfpipe. He teared up as the sparse crowd bid adieu and his fellow riders lined up to hug him.

“I wanted it,” White said. “My legs were giving out on me every hit.”

The stage was being set for some controversy after the second run. James took over the lead with his second attempt. Hirano followed with an impressive run that included the difficult-to-do triple cork, but wasn’t rewarded by the judges. The crowd booed and social media was buzzing.