The battle for the men's halfpipe crown is underway
The fourth day of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games not only featured the third snowboard medal decision (women's halfpipe) but also the qualifiers for the men's halfpipe finals taking place on 14 February at 10:30 LOC (2:30 CET).
And let's be honest, after the show the 29 men pulled off in those two runs this afternoon in the superpipe of the Bokwang Phoenix Park the finals of the best twelve qualifiers will be an insane, an epic event NOT TO BE missed.
All three top favourites for the 2018 Olympic title who had underlined their legal claim in the last weeks prior to the sports pinnacle event in South Korea by landing incredible runs were pushing each other to the limit.
Well, almost to the limit.
Although Shaun White (USA), Scotty James (AUS) and Ayumu Hirano (JPN) had wowed the crowd in the stance with their performances and a qualifier lead which saw them passing each other here and there, all three still reserved some room to throw down even bigger tricks in an incredibly well-shaped pipe.
Hirano, who was just 15 years when winning Olympic Silver in Sochi four years ago, nailed a backside air to back to back 1080 double corks a backside 900 and frontside 1260 to secure the third best qualifier spot with a 95.25.
Scotty James impressed the judges even more with his back to back 1260 to start his run off, a frontside 1080 nose, a switch crippler and a switch backside 900 earning a 96.75.
But like so many times before, it was the sports superstar Shaun White who got some extra speed and air time showcasing his will to grab his third Gold by throwing down back to back 1080 double corks, his signature frontside 540, the tomahawk and a frontside 1260.
And as mentioned above, all three will certainly step up their game in the race for the title with White and Hirano most likely adding one or two 1440's and James for sure up his last trick from a switch backside 900 by one full rotation to a switch backside 1260.
And as if that wasn't enough, riders like Ben Ferguson (USA) known for his creative run compilation as well as Raibu Katayama (JPN), another spinning wonder from the Land of the Rising Sun, had also put runs down scoring over 90.00 points today there might be a surpise on the podium, too, as both looked confident to attack the top-3.
The other seven remaining spots up for grabs went to Jan Scherrer (SUI), Chase Josey (USA), Jake Pates (USA), Patrick Burgner (SUI), Yuto Totsuka (JPN), 2010 Olympic Silver medallist Peetu Piiroinen (FIN) and Kent Callister (AUS) who just bumped 2014 Bronze medallist Taku Hiraoka off the bubble.