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Zhangjiakou, China: Australian Scotty James won silver in the snowboarding men’s halfpipe, coming from behind in his second run in a hotly contested final in Zhangjiakou.
James is Australia’s first silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and third medal a week after the start of competition, putting Australia on track to stage one of its Winter Games the most successful in history.
James’ score of 92.50 in his second run (out of three in the final) put him in gold medal position, until Hirano’s final run of 96.00.
The Aussie crashed on his first run as he tried to put his mark on the competition, scoring just 16.5 points to leave him far behind leader Taylor Gold on 81.75 points. James ended the first run on his second attempt, scoring 92.5 to take the lead heading into the final run.
Luckily for James, his main rival – Japan’s Ayumu Hirano – also crashed on his first run after nailing back-to-back triple stoppers, leaving the field wide open as the riders began their final attempt.
In a neck and neck contest, Hirano scored 91.75 in his second run, leaving him just behind James as they prepared to face each other for the final time. Hirano then landed a 96 in his final ditch pushed down the pipe to claim gold. American legend Shaun White – in his last Olympics after three gold medals in this event finished 4th.
The halfpipe is scored on the best of three runs – allowing racers to throw it all in on each run in the hope of landing a medal. A dozen riders fell trying to go big on the icy halfpipe in tough conditions Friday morning.
Young Australian Valentino Guseli looked huge in the first of his races, boosting him to second place in the standings halfway through the contest. The 16-year-old finished in 6th place after a best run of 79.75.
James, a three-time world halfpipe champion from Warrandyte in Victoria who won bronze in PyeongChang in 2018, had been repeating his last run in Beijing for three months.
“To be Australian, here competing against people who grew up with that in their backyard, there’s a bit of that, you know, angry dog that’s inside of me that has no d ‘matter where I come from,’ the 27-year-old said after the qualifying rounds on Wednesday.
“I’m here to ride and I’m here to compete.”