BONGPYEONG, South Korea — It might be the toughest place to finish in the Olympics.
But Bend’s Ben Ferguson did it in his consistent style that has made him one of the best halfpipe snowboarders in the world. And for now, anyway, likely one of the most frustrated.
Ferguson finished fourth in the men’s halfpipe Wednesday at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, scoring a 90.75 on his third and final run that left him one place away from a medal in his first Olympics.
Bend’s Kent Callister, competing for Australia, placed 10th with a best-run score of 62.
Ferguson was the best American snowboarder in the halfpipe this season in the lead up to the Olympics, based on results. He finished on the podium in three of the four Olympic qualifying contests, and he was the first U.S. men’s halfpipe rider to qualify for the 2018 Games.
But in the end, he just did not have big enough tricks to compete Wednesday with the likes of countryman Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano of Japan, who routinely executed 1260- and 1440-degree rotations in their runs.
White claimed his third Olympic gold medal with a score of 97.75 on the final run of the 12-finalist competition, and Hirano took the silver with a 95.25. Scotty James of Australia (92.00) won the bronze, finishing just 1.25 points better than Ferguson.
Ferguson’s style and his two cab double 1080s (three rotations and two inversions) and a switch McTwist (a flipping backside 540) netted him the 90.75. But with fewer rotations in his tricks than the top three riders, he finished just off the podium.
Ferguson posted a 43 on his first run and an 83.5 on his second run, saving his best for last. But the 23-year-old who grew up riding at Mt. Bachelor ski area will have to wait another four years to vie for an Olympic medal. Ferguson shined in the qualifying round Tuesday, also finishing fourth, and came into the finals as a medal contender.
Callister finished 12th in qualifying to earn the last spot in the finals. He was competing in his second Olympics after finishing ninth in Sochi in 2014. Now he has two top-10 Olympic finishes on his resume, and he is just 22 years old.
A longtime Bend resident who, like Ferguson, grew up honing his craft at Mt. Bachelor, Callister competes for Australia because his father is Australian and he has dual citizenship. Riding for Australia offered a clearer path to qualifying for the Olympics, as the U.S. men’s halfpipe snowboarding team is typically stacked with some of the world’s best talent.
Chase Josey of the U.S. finished sixth (88) and Jake Pates of the U.S. was eighth (82.25), as all four American Olympic riders reached the final.