Ayumu Hirano a step closer to Tokyo 2020 skateboarding dream
The Japanese athlete is best known for his exploits on the snow, where he is a double Olympic snowboard silver medallist.
But the multi-skilled 20-year-old has now become a national champion in skateboarding, which will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
Hirano overcame a strong field including defending champion Kensuke Sasaoka to claim his first national title at Murakami City Skate Park, in the city of his birth.
"I feel like I have taken another step toward the Olympics," Hirano told media following his victory.
Making the switch
Back in November, Hirano announced he would swap boards in a bid to make Tokyo 2020.
Despite admitting his concern that training in two sports could make him weaker in both disciplines, he said skateboarding's debut in his home country was something he "could not just let go".
Hirano took up both snowboarding and skateboarding at the age of four, practising the latter at his father's skate park.
Vert - in which his longtime rival Shaun White has won two X Games titles - is the most natural discipline for halfpipe snowboarders, but it is not being contested in Tokyo.
This means the pair will compete in park (as opposed to street) which, according to the Tokyo 2020 website, takes place "on a hollowed-out course featuring a series of complicated curves – some resembling large dishes and dome-shaped bowls".
A bit like this...
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Shaun White rivalry rekindled
While Hirano's mission to become a snowboarding / skateboarding Olympian is mightily impressive, it is by no means exclusive.
Snowboarding triple Olympic champion Shaun White, the man who pipped Hirano to gold at PyeongChang 2018, is also pursuing the same dream.
The American was mentored by skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, who helped White to turn professional on four wheels by the age of 17.
Since then the flame-haired rider has been a regular fixture on X Games skateboarding podiums in conjunction with his snowboarding career, winning two golds, two silvers and a bronze in the vert.
Following his achievement in Korea, White dropped heavy hints that he would switch to skateboarding in an attempt to qualify for the Tokyo.
“I would love to be a winter/summer Olympian," White told teamusa.org.
"To be a medallist would just be the next level. I’m slowly making my way toward that goal."
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Skateboarding at the Olympics
Skateboarding is one of five new sports to be making its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
The formats for all competitors will be Park (a hollowed-out course featuring dome-shaped bowls) and Street (involving stairs, handrails, curbs and benches).
Each National Olympic Committee can obtain a maximum of three spots in each of the four events.
There are 20 available berths in each event, with one place being given to Japan as hosts.
Three are decided at the world championships and the final 16 from the world rankings.
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Sport switch with his brother
It won't come as any great suprise to find out that Hirano's younger brother Kaishu is equally multi-talented when it comes to sport.
Kaishu, aged 16, is considered a future star of snowboarding but started the sport later in his career, as he was initially more focused on skateboarding.
In order to aid in the development in his sons' skills, their father even turned a gym into Japan's biggest skate park!
With Ayumu concentrating on skateboarding for now and Kaishu on snowboarding, perhaps now is the younger Hirano's time to break out of his brother's shadow on the snow.