Pates smiles proud as White glimmers gold in men’s snowboard halfpipe

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Pilot and Today
Eagle's Jake Pates flips through a trick during the men’s halfpipe snowboarding finals on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pates finished eighth.
Joel Reichenberger | Steamboat Pilot & Today |

BONGPYEONG, South Korea — Shaun White, Ayumu Hirano and Scotty James traded blows at the top to ensure Wednesday’s men’s snowboard halfpipe finals at the 2018 Winter Olympics would be remembered as an all-time epic throw down among some of the best in the sport.

Down the results, Eagle’s Jake Pates was one of the riders to add to the day’s aura, throwing down a solid run to earn 82.25 points and place eighth in his first Olympic experience.

“I was super stoked just to land one,” he said. “That was the goal for me coming in here, to do a clean run and get a decent score, to put one down for everyone back home and get out alive. I was happy with it.”

White won the day with a dominating third and final run, scoring at 97.75 to swoop the gold medal away from Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who had to settle for silver with a score of 95.25. Australia’s Scotty James scored at 92.00 to take bronze.

All three riders landed the big tricks they came with and the intensity spilled down the standings. Ben Ferguson landed a big run in placing fourth. Patrick Burgener of Switzerland, who placed fifth, was so happy with his run he launched his helmet into the crowd as he finished, then littered the snow at the base of the pipe with most of the rest of his belongings.

Chase Josey landed two of his three runs and placed sixth. Only three of the 12 riders in finals didn’t put down a good run in one of snowboarder’s biggest contests.

“It’s so insane,” Pates said, the final runs playing out in front of him. “This is the pinnacle of halfpipe snowboarding, so to be a part of that is the coolest thing ever.”

Pates landed his second run and he pulled into the finish with his arms raised high. His score fell just short of the podium at that point, and it drifted lower as more riders put up big marks. Pates wasn’t able to improve his score on his third attempt.

That didn’t do much to diminish his experience. Just 19 years old, Pates could figure into the U.S. men’s snowboard halfpipe scene for a long time.

“The Games have been amazing. It’s really inspirational watching every different sport and people achieve their hopes and dreams,” he said. “I’m so grateful to be here. This is what I love to do and I want to continue doing it as long as I can. You’ll definitely be seeing more of me.”