The World Cup season is here and Yuto Totsuka kicked it off by taking third place in Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe at the 2021 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. Battling a field of the world’s top freestyle snowboarders, the 20-year-old from Yokohama, Japan, earned a podium spot in a heated final session. Finishing closely off the podium in fourth was 23-year-old rider Ayumu Hirano from Murakami, Japan.
At over 22 feet in height and 600 feet in length, the Copper Mountain superpipe is the only of its kind currently in operation in North America and provided a world-class backdrop for elite riders in the discipline.
In the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe final, the ten qualified riders hailed from only three countries: Japan, Switzerland, and the United States. Winners were determined based on their single best run out of three attempts.
As the final session got underway under blue skies, Yuto Totsuka came in as a podium favorite after a dominant 2020/21 season. But on his first attempt, the reigning Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe World Champion was having difficulty putting a full run together.
Ultimately, Totsuka put down his highest-scoring run on the second attempt. A massive frontside double cork 1440, followed by a Cab double cork 1260 mute, switch backside 1080 mute, backside 900 mute and a huge frontside double cork 1260 on the last wall earned Totsuka 87.75 points.
On his third and final attempt, Totsuka tried to up the difficulty and elevation of his aerials but lost the handle on landing a backside 1260 halfway through his run. With fellow Japanese rider Ruka Hirano claiming the top spot, Totsuka finished in third place on the strength of his second run.
Considered as a key driver of halfpipe snowboarding’s evolution, Totsuka is the 2021 FIS Snowboard World Champion. The two-time Japanese national halfpipe champion (2017 and 2019) also won the snowboard halfpipe event at X Games Aspen 2021 and owns three X Games medals (1 gold, 2 silver). Other accolades include consecutive FIS World Cup Crystal Globe wins in 2018 and 2019, as well as the coveted 2020 Burton U.S. Snowboard Open title.
Finishing closely off the podium, 23-year-old Monster Energy team rider Ayumu Hirano from Murakami, Japan returned to his first international competition since earning silver at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. In the final, Hirano threw down a frontside double cork 1440, Cab double cork 1080, frontside double cork 1260, huge backside 900, and frontside double cork 1080 for 87.25 points and fourth place.