Disgruntled Beijing gold medallist calls for changes in snowboarding officiating

Despite winning gold in the men’s snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano is calling for robust change to the sport's judging system.

Hirano climbed the top of the podium with an incredible score of 96 on his third of three runs in the finals. However, many thought that the 23-year-old had done enough with his enthralling second run of the competition. NBC’s Todd Richards blasted the judges for awarding Hirano’s run a disappointing score of 91.75, stating that they “just grenaded all their credibility.”

Ayumu Hirano may have won gold in the Beijing Olympics, but he still has something to say about the snowboarding officiating. (Getty)
Ayumu Hirano may have won gold in the Beijing Olympics, but he still has something to say about the snowboarding officiating. (Getty)

Understandably, Hirano echoed Richards’s consternated remarks, going so far as to say that athletes are “putting their lives on the line,” therefore the judging has to be better.

“We want to have sound standards and I think we should look into exactly what the judges were looking at,” the 23-year-old Hirano said. “For the athletes, they're putting their lives on the line, they're giving it their all. So for the riders, I think some steps need to be taken to address this issue regarding the judges.”

Hirano asserted that the judges need to find a healthy balance between emboldening freedom from the competitors, because that is “what makes it attractive,” and also enforcing a more concrete grading structure.

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“The wow factor, how you can touch people through your performance, that's important too,” Hirano said.

“But at the Games, in terms of the amplitude, the grabs, we need to measure those accurately and assess those and score those accurately.”

This is Hirano’s third Olympic Games and the first gold medal of his career. After his historic run, Richards declared Hirano the new king of the halfpipe.

“Justice. That run is the heaviest run that has has ever been done in a halfpipe. I will say that. It will echo through social media for the next however long. Ayumu Hirano. The G, the new king.”

This wasn't the first controversy of Beijing's snowboarding competitions. Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris had a disagreement over who should have won gold in the men's slopestyle event. McMorris, who ended up with bronze, later apologized, according to gold-medallist Parrot.

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