NewsCO.com.au – Winter Olympics: Scotty James elated with bronze in thrilling Pyeongchang halfpipe final

February 14, 2018

Posted

February 14, 2018 19:09:11

Bronze might not have been the medal colour Australian Scotty James was hoping for but he acknowledges he was involved in the “best snowboard halfpipe competition ever”.

James won Australia’s second medal of the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, finishing third in a thrilling competition that came down to the final run, with American great Shaun White pipping Japan’s Ayumu Hirano for the gold.

“It feels like a gold to me. This has all come to fruition at the right time,” he said.

“It’s only once every four years I get to show my country what I do. I got to do that in my own style and that was pretty cool.”

Statistically it was the best halfpipe final the Olympics has seen. It felt like one of the best events in Winter Games history.

Since its inclusion in the Olympics in 1998, the snowboard halfpipe event has become one of the most popular competitions of the Games.

The South Korean audience embraced that hype on the slopes today. While there were no Koreans in the final, several locals donned American flags to cheer on White, who was chasing his third gold medal in the event.

By the time Australian Kent Callister lined up as the first competitor in the first run, the crowd was alive with anticipation.

James put himself in top position briefly after his first run and the Australian fans cheered their support.

“I put the run down I wanted to do, and I was excited to do that,” he said.

But James’s lead was short-lived, as White professionally nailed his first ride with an aerial display that bordered on artistry.

Some Americans decided to ‘pull a Tonga’ and ditch their shirts, the star-spangled banner waved, and chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” began.

In the second round, the sizable Japanese fanbase was given reason to cheer, as 2014 Sochi silver medallist Hirano jumped to top spot.

Like all great sporting events, it came down to the final run, with James in third, White second and Hirano at the top.

With each competitor’s acrobatic stunts, the crowd ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ like they were riding a rollercoaster.

When James lined up for his final run, the Australian contingent of fans gazed hopefully to the top of the hill. Moguls silver medallist Matt Graham and the Australian bobsleigh team watched on and cheered.

The run was not what James needed and it was left to White to secure his status as a legend of the sport.

White shows his greatness with clutch performance

When the best athletes are on the stage, there is a sense their triumph has already been written. White’s final run was not unexpected, but it was no less amazing.

His final run with a score of 97.75 ensured he would win his third gold medal in the halfpipe.

As the score flashed up, the American spectators went wild, the Japanese fans sensed a missed chance, while James shed tears as he embraced his family.

“None of this is easy, I’ve worked so so hard to be here,” he said.

“Us Australians in these snowy mountains are few and far between but I had an awesome foundation, and I’ve always just had the will to never give up.”

James’s well-publicised rivalry with White was put aside after the event, as the pair exchanged their respect for one another.

“It was a good battle, at the end there Shaun and I had a quick chat,” James said.

“We said thank you to each other, the rivalry has brought out the best riding in the both of us.”

James now has his eyes on the future and the Beijing 2022 Games.

“I want to be the best in the world, I am absolutely ready for Beijing,” James said with a smile.

If that event is anywhere near as good as the Pyeongchang final, there will be plenty of others that cannot wait either.

Topics:

winter-olympics,

winter-sports,

sport,

snow-boarding,

korea-republic-of,

australia

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