Hirano, the 2018 X-Games superpipe champion, missed on his first run, but his second outing was huge.
James, who fell on his final routine, said: "It could have gone either way between first and second". The younger snowboarders also easily qualified for the halfpipe finals on Tuesday, with James and Hirano scoring 96.75 and 95.25, respectively, in their second runs.
But his achievements on snow have also seemingly rubbed up his rivals with Australian snowboarder Scotty James - one of the favourites for halfpipe gold in South Korea alongside White - claiming the American was overmarked for his flawless score in Colorado. White won his first Olympic gold medal at age 19 at the 2006 Turin Olympics. I knew I did a great ride and I was proud of that and I could walk away with my head high. I didn't even link the combination, the 14 to 14 (back-to-back 1440s) until I got here, today, this morning.
"I remember being handed the flag but I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and get board", White said. "I still feel disappointed, but I did the best I could".
White's opening run, a savvy mix of veteran skill and calm that earned a 93.25, showed his riding is as potent as ever.
"I think I will carry on", White said.
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"I'm just grateful to be standing up on the podium".
Americans have claimed Gold in all four of the snowboard events so far.
James was also adamant that his switch backside 1260 - arguably the most technical trick and one only he throws down - was being underscored. He couldn't repeat this feat in the third run, however, leaving White with a final shot at glory. Hirano said the visibility was not great out on the pipe, making the landing hard after all the twisting and turning he does.
"I'm still shaking, I don't know what's happening".
"That was our game plan today, I wanted to try and drop later in the field tomorrow for finals", James said.
"You might have died if (the location of the fall) had shifted by 1 centimeter", one doctor told him. When she took her "victory lap" run, she chose to got for it-nailing back-to-back 1080s, earning a score of 98.25.