Four years after finishing runner-up at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and subsequently being diagnosed with cancer, Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot on Monday executed a clean, sound run in the men's slopestyle final and captured Olympic gold.
The Quebecois flaunted his technical skills in the rail section of Run 2 then hit a cab 1620, backside 1440 and frontside 1620 on the bottom jumps to record the competition's only score exceeding 90 points.
"It's the biggest run I've done in my entire career," Parrot said "I've never done two triples in a row in a run, with that difficulty as well, and everything was so clean … I definitely didn’t want to have another silver or the bronze. I wanted the gold. That’s what I have been saying for the past months."
Parrot placed fifth in slopestyle at the Sochi Games prior to his 2018 silver in the event. In December 2018, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent seven months and 12 rounds of chemotherapy treatment. He returned to win X Games Norway big air in August 2019.
“It was never an option for cancer to beat me," he said. "But, for sure, I was scared a lot of the time. You don’t know how the treatment is going to work. You don’t know what life has got in store for you.
"I was healthy. I was 24 years old. I was an athlete. And I got cancer. It proves it can happen to anybody. But I never gave cancer a chance. I fought so hard every day to beat cancer."
Parrot told NBC in December 2020 that prior to this diagnosis he "was always the guy that was saying yes to everything" but afterward "learned with time … to live more day to day, to live more [in] the present moment."
He echoed those sentiments Monday, with a gold medal in tow.
"I don’t take anything for granted any more," he said. "It made me such a better snowboarder, as well. I try to appreciate every day now – the little things in the morning through to my passion of snowboarding. I try to smile all day long now, and the results come with that now as well. It’s amazing (laughs)."
Red Gerard comes up short in title defense
"I did what I wanted to do, so not too much I can be bummed on at all," said Gerard, who shrugged off the notion of feeling any pressure on his attempt to repeat. "I was able to put down a run that I've always wanted to do, and this course was incredible, super unique."
These Winter Games mark the first in which the U.S. did not earn a medal in snowboard slopestyle. When asked to comment on the snapped streak, Gerard said, "Where's the next Olympics? Italy? It'll be a [U.S.] sweep there."
Su secures silver; McMorris 3rd straight bronze
Top qualifier Su Yiming, 17, put on a show for the host country to earn silver, its first-ever medal in men's snowboarding. Parrot's teammate Mark McMorris joined him on the podium in the No. 3 spot, his third consecutive Olympic bronze medal after Sochi and PyeongChang.
"This means a lot to me. One of the special things in my life, for sure," Su said. "The Olympic Games in my hometown, and I saw family, friends, everyone supported me, and I shared the podium with my idol, Mark McMorris. He's been my idol since I started snowboarding."
A six-time X Games slopestyle winner, McMorris broke a rib two weeks before Sochi and in the lead-up to PyeongChang suffered a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung in a March 2017 backcountry crash.
“I guess consistency's key – is what they say (laughs)," the 28-year-old said. "After the accident I've been through and to be back at my third Olympics and to get another medal – there's not many people that were in the field in 2014 here earning medals."
"To have that sort of consistency is something to be proud of, and the longevity I've had in snowboarding and the support from everyone. I love the sport and I'm happy to be where I'm at."