Japan's Kaishu Hirano wanted to go big for the Feb. 11 (Feb. 10 in the US) men's snowboard halfpipe final at the Beijing Olympics. For the very first skill of every run (what's called his first "hit"), he showcased how much height he could get on his backside air — setting a world record, NBC Olympics reports, in the final run with a flight of 24'4" above the halfpipe lip.
Yes, that's 24 feet, four inches. Plus, the halfpipe itself is 22 feet tall, meaning Hirano flew a cool and casual 46 feet in the air. Each of his runs saw an even higher backside air until he set that record of over 24 feet in the final go. Until then, Australia's Valentino Guseli had held the record of 23'9" air out of a halfpipe (7.3 meters).
"Just to have that air awareness to be able to hold on to an air that big in the halfpipe . . . it's so, so difficult to go that big and not start swimming in the air," snowboarder and commentator Todd Richards said during the live broadcast, comparing it to falling out of an airplane.
Hirano didn't medal; he received ninth out of 12 competitors with a 75.50, counting his first run's score after falling on runs two and three. Hirano's brother, Ayumu Hirano, also made history by landing the first triple cork in Olympic halfpipe competition. He claimed gold with a huge score of 96.00. For comparison, the US's Shaun White scored a fourth-place-earning 85.00 for what he says is his last competition.
Ahead, check out footage and more photos of Hirano's unreal airtime that set a high-flying world record.