Japanese riders dominated the Men’s Snowboard superipe qualifier on Thursday at Copper Mountain, with Ayumu Hirano, Ruka Hirano (no relation) and Yuto Totsuka leading the charge. Shaun White, making his bid to qualify for his 5th Olympics, finished 4th to advance to Sunday’s 10-man final.
In the best-of-two-runs qualifier, Ayumu Hirano won by a landslide with a Run 2 score of 94.00, 6.25 points ahead of Ruka Hirano (87.75). Ayumu stomped back-to-back double cork 1440s at the top of his run before sending a stylish crippler with a Japan grab, a backside 900 Weddle, and a frontside 1260 on the final wall, just before running out of real estate in the pipe.
Ayumu Hirano is a man of few words, but said he was stoked to land both 1440s in his run and indicated he has plenty more planned for the final. He made history this fall in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, becoming the first person to land a triple cork in the superpipe, but has yet to bring his frontside triple cork 1440 to competition. It’s the trick that put Shaun White in the hospital in 2013, and took eight years for another rider to realize. Ruka Hirano and Yuto Totsuka promptly learned the trick in Switzerland, posting clips to Instagram, and Shaun White has said he plans to revisit the trick.
When asked earlier this week whether he thinks the triple is competition-ready, Ayumu Hirano had just one word: “Definitely.”
Ruka Hirano’s Run 2 opened with a switch backside 1080 tailgrab, backside 900 Weddle, frontside double cork 1080, and Cab double cork 1080 truck driver, before ending with a huge alleyoop rodeo 540 frontside grab.
Yuto Totsuka’s Run 2 featured a switch backside 900 Weddle, Cab 1080 Weddle, frontside double cork 1260 tailgrab, backside 900 Weddle, and frontside double cork 1440 frontside grab. Totsuka dedicated his best run to his good friend Raibu Katayama, who was cheering from the bottom of the superpipe after taking a heavy slam and suffering a concussion and broken rib last week during the U.S. Grand Prix, also here at Copper Mountain.
Shaun White briefly bumped into the #3 spot (all the way from 17th after Run 1), raising his arms triumphantly after landing a full-pull line in Run 2 with a frontside double cork 1080 stalefish, Cab double cork 1080 melon, skyhook frontside 540 stalefish, backside double McTwist 1260, and alley-oop rodeo 540 Indy.
White told field reporter Jonathan “DC” Oetken that his coach JJ Thomas had some simple advice for him at the top of the pipe before dropping in for Run 2: “He just said, ‘Keep it clean and big and just land.’’ So, I’m stoked to put it in and to see you all at the finals.”
Sunday’s top-10 final will also include Andre Hoeflich (Germany), Chase Josey (USA), Taylor Gold (USA), Jan Scherrer (Switzerland), Valentino Guseli (Australia), and Joey Okesson (USA), with qualification points for the 2022 Beijing Olympics on the line.
Three-time Dew Tour winner Danny Davis finished just out of the mix in 12th place, but was all smiles at the bottom of the pipe. “It’s fun to be back in the halfpipe and fun to be back at Dew Tour competing and seeing all the friendly faces,” Davis said after his second run. “It’s another Olympic qualifier so there’s a lot of hammers going down: Ayumu just laced back to back 14s, Andre Hoeflich is riding beautifully, there’s tons of good riding down. It’s fun to be in it and to be a spectator.”
The Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Final presented by Toyota is scheduled for Sunday, December 19 at 10:50 a.m. MST.
Men’s Snowboard Superpipe presented by Toyota Qualifying Results
- Ayumu Hirano (JPN), 94.00
- Ruka Hirano (JPN), 87.75
- Yuto Totsuka (JPN), 86.75
- Shaun White (USA), 85.75
- Andre Hoeflich (GER), 85.00
- Chase Josey (USA), 82.50
- Taylor Gold (USA), 81.50
- Jan Scherrer (SUI), 80.75
- Valentino Guseli (AUS), 75.75
- Joey Okesson (USA), 71.00
- David Habluetzel (SUI), 69.25
- Danny Davis (USA), 60.75
- Josh Bowman (USA), 56.50
- Pat Burgener (SUI), 55.50
- Ryan Wachendorfer (USA), 53.75
- Louie Vito (ITA), 48.75
- Chase Blackwell (USA), 40.50
- Jack Coyne (USA), 38.00
- Derek Livingston (CAN), 32.25
- Kaishu Hirano (JPN), 23.50
- Ikkou Anai (JPN), 19.75
- Toby Miller (USA), 16.00