After cancer, Max Parrot’s 1800 powers him to X Games snowboard big air gold
Canadian star Max Parrot’s big air win in August at X Games Norway was special because 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 because of the stage Buttermilk Ski Area is.
“Aspen is the biggest one,” Parrot said. “It’s here I got my first invite when I was a kid.”
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, 25, 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 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. Sven Thorgren of Sweden took the bronze medal.
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 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. That said, with the silver medal McMorris tied legend Shaun White’s 18 X Games medals for the most X Games medals by a skier or snowboarder in history. McMorris rode to second with a pair of 1620s and three types of 1440s, including a final one as the final jump of the night that featured two grabs: mute and tail.
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.
“That’s a performance I was really proud of,” McMorris said.
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Andy Mill shared insights on ski racing and life this fall with U.S. Ski Team member and Aspen native Bridger Gile. Mill, an American skiing legend, is part of the Aspen Hall of Fame’s class of 2022, which will be inducted in January.