James wins bronze in snowboard halfpipe

Glenn Cullen
AAP

There were no perfect scores and no arguments about judging as the world's greatest snowboarder and his young contemporary left Scotty James with a halfpipe bronze medal at the Winter Olympics.

American Shaun White claimed his third Olympic gold as Japan's Ayumu Hirano edged into second in what was billed as the greatest head-to-head contest of these Games.

And it didn't disappoint.

James got his medal with his first run of 92 points but ultimately couldn't match the silky skills of White who snatched gold with his last effort of 97.75.

Hirano, who led with his 95.25 in the second of three rounds, slotted between the two.

"I came out expecting a really good fight and that's exactly what it was," said James, who dragged his hand on his second run then fell attempting a 1080 on his final hit.

"You only get one time every four years to do so in front of your country and that's what I did so I am absolutely grateful for that.

"It has been an absolute whirlwind season and I've had some really good fights and some ups and downs and it has all been boiling to this point."

Relative to the -20 temperatures experienced in the lead-up it certainly was hot at Bokwang Phoenix Park as riders negotiated a noticeably softer 'pipe in positive temperatures.

Many struggled with the timing of their tricks on Wednesday, Japan's Yuto Totsuka feeling it most brutally after crashing heavily on the halfpipe coping and being taken from the course in a sled.

Before the final much of the competition pre-amble had centred on judging controversies, with James outspoken in his belief White shouldn't have received a perfect 100 in a World Cup competition last month.

James was also adamant his switch backside 1260 - arguably the most technical trick and one only he throws down - was being underscored.

Yet there could be no arguments on Wednesday.

White effectively captured his country's 100th Winter Olympics gold when he nailed back-to-back 1440s (four full spins in consecutive tricks), cementing his status as the sport's most gifted practitioner.

While Ayumu looked unhappy with proceedings it was all smiles between White and James.

"We just thanked each other," James said of their conversation after the event.

White, hugely respected but often regarded as aloof, had been on something of a charm offensive at the Games and paid tribute to the sometimes outspoken Victorian.

"He wears his emotions on the outside," said White.

"I'm very similar, so I appreciate him coming up to me at the end saying 'congratulations'," White said.

James becomes the second Australian medallist of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics after Matt Graham won silver in the moguls.

It is Australia's 14th Winter Olympics medal; another podium finish in South Korea ensuring the team will at least match the three-medal performance of Sochi four years ago.

Fellow Australian Kent Callister was 10th.