Japanese men’s snowboarders Hirano and Hiraoka made history as the first Asians to win an Olympic snowboarding event. Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka won the silver and bronze medals, respectively, for the men’s snowboard half-pipe in Sochi yesterday.
During the first round of runs, 15-year old Hirano was in the lead after finishing with a score of 90.75. His second run was better at 93.50, but fell short of Iouri Podladtchikov’s 94.75 second round score. The Swiss, who’s famous for his nickname “I-Pod,” took home the gold for the men’s event. 18-year old Hiraoka, though performing poorly on his first run with a low 45.50 score, bounced back on the second round with a run worth 92.25 points that pushed him on the second spot after Poladtchikov. With two more runs left from Hirano, and the United States’ Shaun White to go, Hiraoka’s score hangs on the balance. However, a stunning performance from middle-schooler Hirano pushed Hiraoka to the third spot, leaving White in shock as he earned 90.25 points and finished at fourth place.
Hirano and Hiraoka’s silver and bronze medals are Japan’s first for the Sochi Olympics. The nation has been in a dry spell for gold medals since it earned five gold in Nagano in 1998. Since then, Japan’s next gold was in 2006 for figure skating. Hirano’s second place finish in the snowboard event also made him the nation’s youngest Winter Olympic medalist.