Scotty James crashed out on his final run to finish with a bronze medal in an entertaining men’s snowboarding halfpipe final at the Winter Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old Victorian took an early lead after an excellent first run but faded from there as American Shaun White pipped Japan’s Ayumu Hirano for gold with some last-second heroics.
White’s gold was his third in the event, cementing his status as the greatest snowboarder of all time, and the way he did it only added to the legend.
James still harboured hopes of winning gold before losing his footing on his last run and he said he was proud, but emotional, when talking to the Seven Network afterwards.
“I came out and just did it the Australian way and just gave it a real hard crack,” he said.
“I get one opportunity every four years to show my country, Australia, what I do.
“I think I displayed that as well as I could. I’m grateful to be standing here and to get on the podium.”
When told of the big support his quest for gold had generated back home, James acknowledged he was struggling to keep his emotions in check.
“I am fighting back the tears right now because I know my family is over there and when I see the people who made that happen and told me I could [achieve on the world stage] from day one, it will be pretty awesome,” he said.
The final was full of flashpoints, including White’s stunning finish, Hirano’s brilliance and a sickening incident that saw Japanese 16-year-old Yuto Totsuka rushed to hospital.
Totsuka was stretchered off after a botched landing saw him hit the railing.
James started brightly, scoring 92.00 from the judges after landing his classic ‘switch backside 1260’ move on his first run.
His advantage didn’t last long, though, with White moving in front after all the first runs were complete with a 94.25 he celebrated so hard he tossed his helmet into the crowd.
White, who is known as ‘The Flying Tomato’, became the squashed tomato after his second run, in which he crashed, while James recorded a below-par 81.25.
And that allowed Hirano, who finished with silver to nudge in front after a superb 95.25.
That score saw Hirano in front until the very last attempt of the third run, after he failed to better it and James lost his footing.
White was the only man standing between the Japanese snowboarder, who won silver at the 2014 Sochi Games, and glory, but as he has done so many times in a glittering career, the American stood up.
A flawless run gave him a score of 97.25, sparking wild celebrations from the American.
“Shaun is an amazing athlete and he has achieved a lot of great things,” James said.
Aussie Kent Callister, who was also in the final, finished 10th.
James’ bronze is just Australia’s 14th medal at the Winter Games, and second in Pyeongchang.
Matt Graham won the other, claiming silver in the men’s moguls.