Ben Ferguson is getting ready to make his Olympic debut next month in PyeongChang, but first he took care of some business on Sunday night with a bronze medal in the men’s superpipe snowboarding competition at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
On a night in which riders were pushing the limits all around, Ferguson scored 95.00 on his final run, a score that would have won the competition in each of the last four years. Instead, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano won with a score of 99.00, followed by defending champion Scotty James of Australia, who closed things out with a 98.00.
Ferguson, a 23-year-old from Bend, Oregon, known for his creativity and style, fell on his first run then laid down a strong technical second run and jumped into second place behind James with a 94.33. Ferguson was bumped into third after Hirano roared into the lead, and that’s how the order would remain after the third and final runs.
Hirano had a nearly perfect third run, pulling off back-to-back 1440s for the first time in X Games competition to get the win, and even James’ score of 98.00 wasn’t enough to overtake the Japanese rider and defend his 2017 title.
Three of the four athletes who will compete for the U.S. in halfpipe at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 next month were in the field on Sunday night. Chase Josey, 22, who got the discretionary spot on the team, finished in fourth place, and 19-year-old Jake Pates, who was making his X Games Aspen debut, finished eighth. Shaun White, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe snowboarding, withdrew from the competition to rest up for the Olympics.
This was Ferguson’s fifth appearance at the X Games and his second medal. He won silver in the halfpipe in Aspen in 2016.
Ferguson won halfpipe gold and slopestyle silver at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012.