Parrot claims Olympic slopestyle title after battling cancer
Feb 6, 2022, 8:14 AM | Updated: 11:02 pm
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot took home the Olympic gold medal in men’s slopestyle on Monday just over three years removed from being diagnosed with cancer.
Technically superior on his second of three runs, Parrot scored a 90.96 to hold off the field. He tossed his snowboard in delight after the final score was revealed.
Su Yiming of China earned the silver and Mark McMorris of Canada used a strong final run to bump himself into bronze — his third straight one — and knock defending champion Red Gerard of the United States off the podium.
It’s been a disappointing day for some of the U.S. medal hopefuls. Gerard couldn’t put the Americans in the win column just hours after the heavily favored Mikaela Shiffrin failed to finish in the giant slalom, her best ski racing event.
The 27-year-old Parrot was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma about 10 months after winning a silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. He underwent 12 treatments of chemotherapy over six months — a process he described as the toughest months of his life. He steadily regained his strength. Along with it, his winning form as he earned Winter X Games gold medals in big air and slopestyle in 2019 and ’20.
“I was going through a true nightmare,” Parrot said. “And just the thought of snowboarding was my dream at that point.”
He was certainly at his best again Monday, performing one triple cork after another along the Secret Garden course that’s lined with a snow replica of the Great Wall.
Still, there were some anxious moments.
Like when his teammate crushed his final run. McMorris raised his right hand in the air after landing his last trick, thinking maybe he had won. But it wasn’t good enough to move him past Parrot. McMorris tapped the snow with his board before heading over to hug his teammate.
“Max beat cancer, and it’s pretty sick to see him do well,” McMorris said.
McMorris has been one of Canada’s top riders over the last decade and has won a lot of medals, but none of them Olympic gold.
He’s now 3 for 3 in slopestyle bronze medals at the Winter Games. That he’s even on the mountain is something of a miracle given McMorris’ life-threatening accident while skiing in the Canadian Rockies about five years ago.
At 17, Su turned out to be the slopestyle surprise at the Genting Snow Park. His second run placed him on the podium. After his final run, he covered his eyes with both hands in disbelief.
Su won a big-air competition in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in December. His best slopestyle finish on the World Cup circuit was sixth on New Year’s Day.
Gerard was looking at bronze before McMorris’ run. He put his hands on his head after watching McMorris finish.
In Pyeongchang four years ago, Gerard won gold as a 17-year-old with a unique backstory — a snowboarding training park built by him and his older brothers at the back of his family home in Colorado.
His career now includes making award-winning movies, with his film titled “Joy” named the movie of the year at the Snowboarder Awards in 2020.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.