White’s run began with a frontside 1440 and included a 1260 as well.
Scotty James Sets the Bar High
With the American Chase Josey in the lead at 87.75, it’s time for the first of the Big 3, the high-flying Ayumu Hirano of Japan.
But Hirano slips on landing his second big jump. He’ll have to wait for a later run to go for his medal.
Next up was the brash Scotty James of Australia, a two-time world champion who at 23 is more than ready to knock off the veteran White. He puts together a controlled run that is totally clean. The score is the best of the round, 92. Over to you Shaun.
Top Names Waiting for Their Shot
The three biggest names, Ayumu Hirano of Japan, Scotty James of Australia and White, will go in the last three spots.
Of the earlier, less heralded competitors, the first to put up a strong run was Patrick Burgener of Switzerland. He looked remarkably unruffled before his run, miming some air guitar, then hit all his tricks to score an 84.00. The American Chase Josey topped him with an 87.75. That’s probably not enough for a medal, but a real marker for the favorites to shoot for.
What to Expect in the Halfpipe
• Expect White to throw moves like the frontside double cork 1080, the frontside 5 stalefish, the double mctwist 1260, the and the frontside double cork 1260.
• His chief challengers are Ayumu Hirano of Japan, 19, who is noted for being the first man to land back-to-back 1440s, and Scotty James of Australia, 23, a two-time world champion who has said the judges unduly favor White.
• Each boarder gets three runs; only the best one counts.
• White is a two-time Olympic champion, in 2006 and 2010. He crashed hard in 2014 and finished a disappointing fourth.
• In qualifying, White put up a great run, then after Hirano and James scored higher, he topped it.
“I was stoked to put that run down, that took the pressure and the edge off and then I started seeing everyone putting these great runs in and…