Hirano Ayumu: Skateboard technique was secret "weapon" on journey to snowboard halfpipe gold at Beijing 2022

Training for the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021 helped the 23-year-old claim Japan's first snowboard gold medal. He explains why.

By James Pratt
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Hirano Ayumu has revealed that his skateboard training played a big part in becoming Japan's first ever snowboard Winter Olympic gold medallist.

"Being able to do both snowboarding and skateboarding is certainly my weapon," Hirano said at a media conference in Zhangjiakou on Saturday (12 February), the morning after his win at the Beijing 2022 Games

Hirano took part in the skateboard competition at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, six months before his men's snowboard halfpipe victory in China. But far from being a distraction, he says the two sports complemented each other.

"I've been skateboarding from a very young age. In terms of the vertical, there's very similar things in halfpipe, so the training that I've been doing for that has been helpful. The kick-off technique for skateboarding is something I've studied a lot, I've really focussed on that, and of course that is very helpful in terms of snowboarding," he added.

"Amplitude, height, is something I've really worked on. The spin technique has become ever more advanced, and because of that it's difficult to get that lift, that amplitude, and to have the right balance. There's certainly difficulties because of that technical side. But we don't want to lose that amplitude."

The snowboarding superstar's ability to get big air in the pipe was clear when he landed a pair of triple corks at the Genting Snow Park, to register an incredible 96.0 on his final run and clinch the gold, following back-to-back silvers at PyeongChang 2018 and Sochi 2014.

"The reason I've been able to reach those heights is thanks to the skateboarding." - Hirano Ayumu

Hirano also laid down a warning to his rivals, saying, "I'm not satisfied where I'm at yet."

"It's not just about performing the trick. It's about the ride up to performing the trick. That is something I treasure. It's something I still need to work on."

The Japanese dual threat even wrote his university thesis about this quest for improvement. "Since I was young I talked about these things with my dad. That's what my research was on, and I wrote my thesis about that."

He topped a halfpipe podium that also featured Australia's Scotty James (92.50) and Jan Scherrer (87.25) of Switzerland. Three-time and defending Olympic champion Shaun White, competing in his fifth and final Olympics at the age of 35, finished just outside the medals in fourth place.


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