Photos: Japan’s Ayumu Hirano returns to win men’s halfpipe comp at Rev Tour |

Photos: Japan’s Ayumu Hirano returns to win men’s halfpipe comp at Rev Tour

Japan's Ayumu Hirano competes in the men's snowboard halfpipe contest at the U.S. Revolution Tour stop on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at Buttermilk Ski Area. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

After a long break from competitive snowboarding, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano made his triumphant return Thursday by winning the men’s halfpipe snowboarding contest at the U.S. Revolution Tour stop at Aspen’s Buttermilk Ski Area.

The last time Hirano competed in a sanctioned FIS event was at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where he narrowly finished second behind Shaun White for his second silver medal in two Olympic appearances.

Hirano, only 22, also won at X Games Aspen in 2018, the last time he competed in ESPN’s iconic competition. He had been slated to compete at X Games last month, but was a late withdrawal, presumably for a positive COVID-19 test.

Hirano made easy work of the competition Thursday, putting down a score of 92.75 in his first of two finals runs in what was a rout by any standard. California’s Joshua Bowman, also 22, finished second with 84.50 and Colorado’s Ryan Wachendorfer was third with 81.50.

Hirano was the only non-American of the 12 finalists. Should he compete as expected, Hirano will be among the favorites — if not at the very top of the list — to win next month’s world championship, also hosted by Aspen at Buttermilk Ski Area.

In the women’s snowboard halfpipe competition on Thursday at Rev Tour, Spain’s Queralt Castellet lapped the field by scoring 90.50 on her best run in finals to beat Germany’s Leilani Ettel (84) and Avon’s Zoe Kalapos (77.75).

Castellet, 31, is among the most veteran of the Rev Tour athletes this week and has multiple X Games appearances under her belt, including her win in 2020 when Chloe Kim did not compete.

The Rev Tour concludes Friday with the men’s and women’s snowboard big air competitions. While Buttermilk remains open for general skiing and snowboarding, spectating of the contests is not permitted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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