Ayumu Hirano (平野 歩夢 Hirano Ayumu, born 29 November 1998) is a Japanese competitive snowboarder. He won the silver medal in the superpipe in 2013 Winter X Games XVI at the age of 14, becoming the youngest medalist in X Games history, and won silver medals in the halfpipe at both the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
|Born||29 November 1998|
|Height||1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||50 kg (110 lb)|
|Coached by||Elijah Teter|
Ayumu Hirano was born and raised in a small coastal city called Murakami in Niigata Prefecture situated in a rather snowy area in Japan. His mother named him Ayumu (歩夢), which literally means "walk the dream" (歩＝walk, 夢＝dream), wishing him to become a person who would know the joy of pursuing a dream and the perseverance to make it come true. His father, Hidenori, was a surfer who eventually opened a surf shop, and later made a skate park (Nihonkai Skate Park) from scratch in his hometown of Murakami. The father originally hoped his son, Ayumu, to become a surfer, but the son did not like it much. Instead, he got absorbed in skateboarding, following the footstep of his 3-year-older brother, Eiju. He started skateboarding at the age of 4, and the snowboarding half a year later. He said he did not even remember how he started as he was too young and as it was just so natural for him. He belonged to the skateboarding team "e-Yume Kids" (meaning team "great dream kids") at Nihonkai Skate Park and joined skateboarding competitions. As there was not a halfpipe near their hometown, his father often had to drive Hirano all the way to Yokone ski resort in Yamagata Prefecture, where there was the first official permanent halfpipe in Japan, which, however, is 4 meters narrower than the world standard halfpipe. Burton, one of the leading snowboarding brands, has been sponsoring Hirano since he was a fourth-grader.
Hirano's first big international snowboarding success was in March 2011, when he won the Burton US Junior Open. At the age of 12, the sixth-grader was not officially allowed to enter the open division of the event, where his mentor Kazuhiro Kokubo would win gold and his brother Eiju would take the 7th place. However, between rounds he dropped into the pipe as a "poacher" and amazed the audience with his ride with grand amplitude. In 2012, he was invited to the Burton High Fives, an open event held in New Zealand to win the gold at the age of 13. In 2013, he was invited to compete in the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, snowboarding's biggest non-Olympic stage, where he won silver in the halfpipe behind Shaun White, who explained: "The Japanese rider who got second is 14 years old. It's amazing!" He continued on with a first place at the Burton European Open, a second place at the Burton US Open (also behind Shaun White), and a third place at the Oakley Arctic Challenge, becoming the 2012/2013 Halfpipe World Tour Champion. With this, he became the youngest rider to achieve this title. In the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, he won the silver, behind Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov.
Hirano takes a goofy stance with his right foot forward, and his precise technique, timing and fearlessness allow him a greater verticality in taking off from the lips of the pipe, granting him an extraordinary amplitude in his air while making his tricks look effortless and time-stopping.
Hirano's mentor other than his parents is Kazuhiro Kokubo, a Japanese two-time US open winner in the halfpipe. Hirano said in an interview in 2013 by a Japanese magazine, Transworld Snowboarding Japan, "The environment has dramatically changed after I first went to the US. I met Kazu (Kokubo) and Carl (Harris), and it made it possible for me to join Mt. Hood summer camp, and to compete in New Zealand. It gave me the experience in different pipes and I got to see the leading riders ride. I came to understand what world class means and knew what I needed to improve." Kokubo has been mentoring Hirano since 2011, and was assigned as the official technical coach for the Japanese national snowboarder team in 2013 by the Ski Association of Japan to support them in 2012–2013 season.
Among Hirano's other coaches are Ben Boyd and Elijah Teter at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
Hirano's father has had the motto of "Personality comes first. The most essential is the most important" throughout his parenting and running his kids' skateboarding team.
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- "Sochi Winter Olympics: Ayumu Hirano is far from your average 15-year-old boy". smh.com.au. Retrieved 20 September 2015.