Back at the 2012 US Open, Ayumu Hirano blew minds when he poached the pipe finals and went bigger than many of the finalists. Since then, he has been a regular on the podium and got the world scratching their heads, as they pondor how me manages to go so big. Under the wing of Kazu, his coach and mentor, we are under the impression that we are just beginning to scratch the surface on what Ayumu is capable of. Hirano isn’t the biggest talker but this introverted individual is one of the most explosive riders around today.
What do sixteen-years-olds struggle most with nowadays, outside of snowboarding?
Same as everybody really, not being able to drive is the main one.
You were the youngest rider ever to win the World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe title back in 2013/14. This year you became the first ever WST Pro Series Halfpipe Champion. What is it like to be on top of your sport at such a young age?
I don’t feel like I’m at the top of my sport because I know I can ride better than I am now.
It seems a lot of Japanese riders become really good at pipe riding (at a young age), what is it about pipe that the Japanese are so fond of?
I don’t think it’s only Japan. Pipe riders from around the world are getting younger every season.
Your dad owns his own state of the art skate park in Japan where you also skate vert really well. Does skating vert adapt to snowboarding well in the pipe?
There are a lot of things in common when it comes to skating vert and riding the halfpipe like the timing for pumping and take offs.
Do you have plans to enter the X Games for snowboarding and skating in the future?
Yes, but I will need to skate A LOT if I wanted to be in the X Games for skating.
Since your official arrival you have been a regular on the podium, winning the BEO pipe High Fives in NZ, second at the US open and a silver medal at Sochi. How has life changed for you in this short amount of time?
My life hasn’t changed much. I just spend more time outside of Japan.
You spend a lot of your time in the US, how has it been adapting to the culture differences and what do you miss most about Japan whilst away?
It gets easier and easier for me to stay in the U.S every time I come back. I miss my family, friends, and Japanese food the most when I’m away from home.
You seem to be a quiet person on interviews, are you naturally a shy person or is that mostly because of the language barrier?
I don’t know, I guess unless I have something important to say why waste time talking? haha
Many 16 year olds don’t worry about their health at that age but what about you? How do you stay fit and healthy? Do you spend a lot of time in the gym and how important is health to you?
Food is my main concern when I’m away from home so I bring a lot of Japanese food with me so that I don’t get sick of the foreign food and am able to eat healthy occasionally. I don’t go to the gym but I do some push ups and sit ups at home when I have the time.
Your brother Eiju, also competes with you, how is it riding against your brother? Are you competitive towards each other? Are there some tricks that Eiju does that you cannot do as good?
We’re not necessarily competitive but we do push each other to learn new tricks.
A few people have said you were harshly judged at this years BEO pipe, what do you think about that? Did you deserve at better score?
I just need to ride better so that there’s no question in the judge’s mind after my run.
What tricks would you like to get down in the near future?
More big style tricks.
One of your coaches and mentors is Kazu, how much time do you spend riding together and what is he like as a mentor?
Since Kazu isn’t doing contests this season, we haven’t been able to spend much time together. He did invite me on a heli trip to Alaska though. Too scary haha.
Do you have plans to follow in Kazu’s footsteps and ride more backcountry in the future?
You can’t ride half pipe forever.
Follow Ayumu on his Instagram here.