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Hirano Ayumu exclusive: Why being the best is lonely

Star snowboarder Hirano Ayumu landed the first triple cork in halfpipe competition history in 2021. At Beijing 2022, the 23-year-old became the first Japanese athlete to win snowboard Olympic gold, and also the first athlete of his nation to win medals at three straight Winter Games. But the road to the top was a lonely one. The whole practice of being an elite snowboarder is a solitary process," Hirano admits. "We are in a world where we put ourselves in danger, and only one person can be at the top, not two. The level of tricks is getting higher and higher, and tricks like the triple cork, which people used to say could be fatal, are now possible."

Hirano Ayumu exclusive: Why being the best is lonely

Star snowboarder Hirano Ayumu landed the first triple cork in halfpipe competition history in 2021. At Beijing 2022, the 23-year-old became the first Japanese athlete to win snowboard Olympic gold, and also the first athlete of his nation to win medals at three straight Winter Games. But the road to the top was a lonely one. The whole practice of being an elite snowboarder is a solitary process," Hirano admits. "We are in a world where we put ourselves in danger, and only one person can be at the top, not two. The level of tricks is getting higher and higher, and tricks like the triple cork, which people used to say could be fatal, are now possible."