Shaun White’s Olympic career is over. But the three-time gold medalist who popularized men’s snowboarding to the masses leaves is passing the torch to a worthy successor. The sport’s latest star, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, has garnered plenty of headlines at the 2022 Winter Olympics and captured the attention of a new generation of fans.
Hirano won the gold medal in men’s halfpipe at the Olympics Thursday night, securing the elusive title of best snowboarder in the world.
A two-time silver medalist in the event, Hirano stuck a triple cork during his second run — a move that completed what NBC snowboarding analyst Todd Richards called “the best run that’s ever been done in the halfpipe.” The 23-year-old somehow managed to top that in an epic final run that included another triple-cork, or three head-over-heels spins while twisting above the pipe, followed by a double cork for a score of 96.
Here’s everything you need to know about the gold-medal winner:
Where was Ayumu Hirano born?
Hirano was born in Murakami in the northeast part of Japan’s Niigata prefecture. The small coastal city is known to have wet summers and cold, snowy winters.
What does Ayumu Hirano’s name mean?
The name Ayumu means “walk the dream” in Japanese. Ayumu did just that Thursday, fulfilling his dream of becoming Japan’s first gold-medal winner in snowboard halfpipe.
How tall is Ayumu Hirano?
Hirano is 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
Did Ayumu Hirano compete at the Tokyo Olympics?
Hirano did compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He competed for Japan in the men’s inaugural skateboarding competition but did not advance to the finals.
How long has Ayumu Hirano been snowboarding?
The Olympic gold-medal winner started skateboarding first at the age of four, and got into snowboarding soon after.
Hirano’s early ability caught the eye of snowboarding brand Burton, which began sponsoring the young snowboarder in the fourth grade.
Are Ayumu Hirano and Ruka Hirano related?
While these two Olympic snowboarders share a last name, they are not related. Ruka also raced in the men’s halfpipe on Thursday night in Beijing, sparking questions among fans watching who wondered if the Hirano snowboarders are brothers.
Who is Ayumu Hirano’s brother?
Kaishu Hirano is Ayumu’s younger brother. Kaishu, 19, made his Olympics debut for Japan at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing and did compete against his brother in the men’s halfpipe event.
He also set a world record for a backside air during the competition. Not too shabby for a first-time Olympic snowboarder.
Kaishu is an up-and-comer in the snowboarding world, collecting a bronze medal at the 2022 Winter X Games in Aspen earlier this year.
What are Ayumu Hirano’s career highlights?
Ayumu Hirano and Shaun White will appear in a lot of headlines and sentences together over the next couple of weeks but there is still space in between the two Olympic gold medalists as one is preparing for retirement and the other is celebrating his first career gold medal at the Olympics.
In addition to the 2022 gold medal win, Hirano is the youngest medalist in X Games history. He won the silver medal in superpipe in 2013 at the age of 14. He’s collected several more X Games medals since then, including gold in superpipe in 2016 and 2018.
Hirano has also won silver medals in halfpipe at the Olympics in 2014 Sochi and in 2018 Pyeongchang.
Who won the men’s halfpipe at the 2022 Olympics?
Ayumu Hirano won the men’s halfpipe competition at the Olympics. He won the gold medal at age 23.
Where did Shaun White finish in the Olympics?
White finished in fourth place in men’s halfpipe in what he called the final competition of his career. He did not secure a medal in the event.
How old was Shaun White when he won his first gold medal?
White won gold in his Olympic debut at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
He was 19 years old.