Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano made history today, becoming the first person to ever land a triple cork on the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics. Executed during his second run in the Men’s halfpipe final, Hirano’s practically perfect performance had NBC’s snowboarding analyst in raptures, confidently predicting a score of 98.
But in a highly controversial decision, the judges only granted Hirano a 91.75, leaving him in second place at the end of the run.
“Uhh, what?” commentator Todd Richards exclaimed when Hirano’s score was announced. “What? Is there a mistake? How did that — wait a minute. There’s no way. There’s no way! A 91.75?”
A former U.S. Olympian and seven-time Winter X Games medalist, Richards has served as a snowboarding commentator at NBC Sports for the past three Winter Olympics. So it’s safe to say he probably knows what he’s talking about.
“As far as I’m concerned, the judges just grenaded all their credibility,” Richards continued. “That run — I’ve been doing this for so long. So long. I know what a good run looks like. I know the ingredients of a winning run. I know when I see the best run that’s ever been done in the halfpipe. Try to tell me where you’re deducting from this run. It’s unbelievable that this is even happening — it’s a travesty, to be completely honest with you. I am irate right now.”
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Hirano’s historic triple cork wasn’t the only impressive element in his extremely clean run, so it’s hard to know why his score wasn’t as high as Richards expected. Video of Richards’ disbelief quickly went viral, with everyone from fans to casual observers to a few other snowboarders all decrying the judge’s call — as well as enjoying the passionate commentary.
Hirano later landed another triple cork in his third run, earning a gold-winning score of 96.00 and restoring some justice to the world of snowboarding. But getting a score of 98 on his road to victory would have no doubt made the 23-year-old’s first Olympic gold much sweeter.
“I did what I wanted to do right at the end — I wasn’t able to accept the second run’s score,” said Hirano after his gold-winning run. “But I managed to express my anger well at the end.”