ZHANGJIAKOU, China — In Shaun White’s farewell performance on Friday, Ayumu Hirano of Japan won an elusive Olympic gold in the halfpipe with a boundary-pushing final run.

There was no doubt about the winner after Hirano’s electric performance as the last rider to go. His run included an intricate and unprecedented series of flips and spins that pushed a sport obsessed with progression to new heights. His score of 96 reflected that and the two-time Olympic silver medalist moved past Scotty James of Australia, who scored 92.50. Jan Scherrer of Switzerland took bronze.

White finished in fourth place as he fell on the final run of a career that’s seen the American star win three Olympic titles. He lifted up his goggles and waved to the crowd on his way down the halfpipe. He teared up as the sparse crowd bid adieu to the 35-year-old and fellow riders lined up to hug him.

“I wanted it,” White said. “My legs were giving out on me every hit.”

The stage was being set for some controversy after the second run. James took over the lead with his second attempt. Hirano followed with an impressive run that included the difficult-to-do triple cork but wasn’t rewarded by the judges. The crowd booed and social media was buzzing.

“I know when I’ve seen the best run that’s ever been done in the halfpipe. … It’s a travesty to be completely honest with you. I’m irate,” NBC snowboard analyst Todd Richards said. “What’s the point of doing the triple cork, this most dangerous of dangerous tricks, if you’re not getting rewarded?”


Then Hirano went out and did the trick again – ever better.

“Justice,” Richards said.


Beijing Olympics Alpine Skiing

Mikaela Shiffrin goes over a jump during the women’s super-G at the Winter Olympics on Friday. Alessandro Trovati/Associated Press

Mikaela Shiffrin completed the super-G at the Beijing Olympics in a time way that was a half second out of medal contention – but for the first time in three races at the 2022 Games, she made it across the finish line.

The two-time Olympic Alpine gold medalist crossed the line at the bottom of a course known as The Rock in an unofficial time of 1 minute, 14.30 seconds. That left the 26-year-old American in ninth place – .79 seconds behind winner Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland.

Shiffrin never had entered a super-G at an Olympics before, although she did win a gold in the event at the 2019 world championship and a bronze at last year’s worlds.


She failed to finish her opening run in the two-run events that preceded the super-G in Beijing: the giant slalom and the slalom. She has won both at past Olympics.

Shiffrin actually started well enough Friday, reaching the initial check point in 12.66 seconds – ahead of Gut-Behrami’s pace.

But from there, Shiffrin lost touch with the leader.

About 4 1/2 hours before Friday’s race began, Shiffrin posted on Twitter, writing: “Today is Super G, and Super G is fun. I can’t express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to refocus on a new race, in the sport that I love so much. Onward.”

She also said: “I’ve had a lot of support over the last 48 hours and I have to thank everyone for that.”

The next women’s Alpine event is the downhill on Tuesday. While Shiffrin planned to enter all five individual races in Beijing, it’s not known for sure whether that actually will end up happening.



Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s right to compete in the women’s event at the Beijing Olympics will be decided at an urgent hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The International Testing Agency said it will lead an appeal on behalf of the IOC against a decision by Russia’s anti-doping agency to lift a provisional ban – which Russian officials had imposed Tuesday – on the 15-year-old Valieva for failing a doping test in December.

Valieva is the heavy favorite in her event which begins Tuesday after setting world record scores this season and landing the first quad jump by a women at an Olympics.

The ITA confirmed reports that Valieva tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine at the Russian national championships in St. Petersburg six weeks ago

The positive test was flagged by a laboratory in Sweden only on Tuesday – the day after Valieva helped the Russians win the team event and just hours before the medal ceremony, which was then postponed. Whether the Russians will lose their gold medal in the team event will be decided later.

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