‘Irate’ 2022 Olympics announcer loses his mind over Ayumu Hirano judging controversy

Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma
13 Feb 2022

‘Irate’ 2022 Olympics announcer loses his mind over Ayumu Hirano judging controversy

The 2022 Olympics almost had yet another controversy on their hands in the men’s snowboarding halfpipe final, as many – including (and perhaps especially) NBC broadcaster Todd Richards – thought eventual gold medalist Ayumu Hirano was robbed by the judges on his immaculate second run.

After falling on his first attempt, the 23-year-old Hirano laid down a spectacular run on his second try, beginning by landing a triple cork (the hardest trick in snowboarding) for the first time in Olympic history and throwing down four more technically brilliant tricks without falling. Almost immediately after landing it, Richards declared that “it’s over” and “no one will touch that run.”

“That is gonna be a 98,” Richards said.

Apparently, the judges did not agree. Not only did Hirano not get the lofty score the broadcast predicted, the 91.75 wasn’t even enough to get him into first place ahead of Australian Scotty James.

RIchards – who competed in the halfpipe competition in the 1998 Olympics and has been a broadcaster for years – was baffled.

“Uhhhh. What?” he said after the score was put onto the screen. “Is there a mistake? How did that — wait a minute. There’s no way. There is no way! A 91.75?”

As the dust settled, the announcers remained in shock.

“As far as I’m concerned, the judges just grenaded all their credibility,” Richards said. “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 a 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.”
Most of the internet followed suit, angrily questioning what happened with the judges. It was later revealed that an American judge gave Hirano an 89 in a score that was thrown out, with Canada and Switzerland both giving him a 90.

Luckily, on Hirano’s third and final run, the Japanese sensation went even bigger, throwing down the same run without falling but perhaps getting even more height out of the halfpipe. This time, he was rewarded with a 96 – and the gold medal.

“I wasn’t convinced by the scoring on my second run, but I think I was able to express that anger well,” Hirano said in Japanese after his run, according to a Twitter post.

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