Parrot’s 1800 powers him to X Games snowboard big air gold
Mark McMorris’ silver ties Shaun White for 18 medals, most ever
ASPEN – For Canadian star Max Parrot, his big air win in August at X Games Norway was special — it was an X Games gold medal in his first competition back mere months after recovering from a Hodkins Lymphoma diagnosis. But Saturday night’s win at X Games Aspen’s snowboard big air competition may have been more special.
“Aspen is the biggest one,” Parrot said moments after winning against a loaded field of competitors on the 300-foot in-run, 80-foot jump course. “It’s here I got my first invite when I was a kid. It’s the one everyone looks for, the one we see the most progression every year. So it’s the most important.”
A year after doctors forced him out of last winter’s X Games Aspen to begin chemotherapy treatment, Parrot won Saturday on the strength of a soaring switch frontside triple cork 1800. Parrot is the only athlete in the world who can land the trick, which requires him to ride backward into the launch before rotating his body to his board’s front side to invert on his vertical axis three times while completing five rotations.
Parrot said it took six-day a week training sessions in the gym, on the trampoline and on the airbag, to build his strength and skill enough to land the move, which kept him ahead of a versatile, five-for-five performance from fellow Canadian and silver medalist Mark McMorris.
“Every jump we do is hard,” Parrot said, “but that one is a little harder because there is more spin, you have to huck more on the takeoff, so you have to be a little bit stronger.”
Parrot also landed a backside triple cork 1620, a frontside triple cork 1620 he landed switch with an inventive melon grab, a cab triple cork 1620 and a triple cork 1440.
McMorris rode to silver in the new X Games 25-minute jam format where riders aren’t awarded exact scores. Rather, they are re-ranked on a leaderboard after each and every jump. The top of the leaderboard went back and forth between McMorris and Parrot before Parrot’s 1800 kept him on top near the end.
McMorris’s silver was good enough for him to tie Shaun White’s 18 X Games medals for the most total X Games medals by a skier or snowboarder.
McMorris rode to second with a pair of 1620s and three different types of 1440s, including his last one, the final jump of the night, that featured two grabs: mute and tail.
In the end, McMorris felt he had done enough to win, but he was happy with the result anyway. As for when he’ll go for medal No. 19, he said he may compete in Sunday’s rail jam, though he may leave the stage for his older brother Craig. If not Sunday, he said he plans to compete at X Games China in Chongli later this year.
“My strategy was trying to play what they told us to do,” McMorris said, “all different directions and land consistently. So I did five for five and I am so thankful. That’s a performance I was really proud of. I think it definitely could have went my way getting gold. But I don’t really care, that’s out of my hands. I rode to the best of my ability and it could have been either way, but I’ll take it.”
The other shocking development of the night was Japanese 20-year-old Ryo Aizawa’s landing of an 1800 followed by a failed attempt at an unprecedented 1980. Afterward, Aizawa said he felt like he almost had the trick. When is he confident he can land it?
“Next time,” he said with a wide smile.
Aizawa finished in seventh. Sven Thorgren of Sweden took the bronze medal.
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