Incredibly enough, Ayumu Hirano had never won at Dew Tour prior to Sunday, when he won the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Final by a 5-point margin and then took both the MVP Award and the U.S. Air Force Highest Air Award (22 feet, 3 inches) in the Superpipe High Air and Best Trick Jam immediately afterward.
“I’m so stoked because Dew Tour is the only major competition I’ve never won before,” he said with a translation assist after the Superpipe awards ceremony, referring to a list of accomplishments that includes Olympic gold (Beijing 2022) and two silver (Sochi 2014, PyeongChang 2018), as well as two X Games wins and five career FIS World Cup wins.
Hirano had falls in his first two of four runs, attempting back-to-back 1440s at the top of his run. He successfully linked them in each of his next two passes, ending up with the two highest scores of the contest. He nailed his Run 3 pass for a score of 93.00: frontside double cork 1440 frontside grab, Cab 1440 frontside grab, slob grab crippler, backside 900 Weddle, and frontside 1260 frontside grab.
Hirano’s Run 4 pass wasn’t quite a victory lap, with Taylor Gold still to drop, so he stepped it up even further, linking the 1440s together again up top into the slob grab crippler and upgrading to back-to-back 1260s at the bottom of his run – backside 1260 and Cab 1260 – for a score of 96.66.
“I wanted to show my best because Taylor Gold and Raibu Katayama and all the other competitors were riding with passion,” Hirano said. “It was a fun contest.”
Taylor Gold, the last to drop, answered with his only full-pull run of the contest, bumping all the way into 2nd place with an innovative run featuring a chicken wing McTwist, frontside 1260 tailgrab, double Michalchuk melon to Indy double grab, melon air to fakie, and Cab 1080 roast beef grab for a score of 91.33.
“It feels awesome to be on the podium again,” Gold said. “There was a bit of a mellower field this year, and the conditions were better than we were expecting, too, before the snow started really falling, so I’m glad that I was able to take advantage of the opportunity and get on there.”
Gold said he was happy to see that fans and judges agreed that his creative approach to putting a run together was worthy.
“All due respect to Ayumu for linking those 14s and 12, but for me, it’s a lot more fun to take a creative approach and try to do some things that mix up the flow of the run and break up the rhythm. It makes it feel more like snowboarding. Sometimes if you’re just doing doubles back to back to back, it feels kind of gymnastic. I like that feeling in the McTwist and the air to fakie when you slow down and can see the deck and you can enjoy the feeling of the trick, where I would argue a 12 or a 14 is not the most fun feeling.”
Raibu Katayama was in the 2nd place position until the very end of the contest when Taylor Gold bumped him to 3rd place. But after missing the Dew Tour Final last year, forced to watch from the bottom after a head injury the week before, he said he was thrilled to be on the podium this time around and even more thrilled to ride in front of the fans at Copper Mountain.
Run 2 was his best, with a huge melon air to fakie, Cab double cork 1080 frontside grab, frontside 900 melon, backside 900 Weddle, and frontside double cork 1260 tailgrab. In Run 4, he launched the highest-measured air of the contest, sending his air to fakie towards the 19-foot mark.
“There were so many fans in the audience cheering, I kept thinking, ‘I have to go higher and higher,'” Katayama said. “It’s such an amazing feeling when there are fans all the way down the side of the halfpipe and crowded in at the bottom, just screaming and going crazy. It gives me so much energy.”
Danny Davis, a MTN Dew team rider and the oldest in the field at 34, finished 7th but had tricks for the contest highlight reel, including huge method airs, switch methods, a frontside alley-oop, and the Miller flip that has become one of his signature moves.
Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Results:
1.) Ayumu Hirano 96.66
2.) Taylor Gold 91.22
3.) Raibu Katayama 90.00
4.) Ryan Wachendorfer 87.66
5.) Josh Bowman 76.33
6.) Jason Wolle 73.00
7.) Danny Davis 68.00
8.) Siddhartha Ullah 44.00