X Games notes: Parrot rallies back from cancer, Kenworthy talks Olympics
In the lead up to X Games Aspen 2019, Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot was hit with some life-changing news. The six-time gold medalist announced he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the blood cells.
Just like that, his season was over, and his future in doubt.
A year later, Parrot is cancer-free and ready for his X Games return.
“Knowing I wasn’t there last year and knowing that I’m actually here only a couple of months later after beating cancer, that still means a lot for me,” Parrot said during Wednesday’s introductory news conference at Buttermilk. “I actually feel very strong right now. I feel healthy. I feel energetic, as well. I’m getting back to my normal life, which feels amazing.”
Parrot is a 10-time X Games medalist, including five gold medals in big air. He also has four silver medals and Olympic silver from 2018. He’ll compete this week in both big air (finals are 8 p.m. Saturday) and slopestyle (qualifying is noon Thursday) in Aspen.
“The first time I showed up here was a huge dream for me and I remember that as if it was yesterday,” Parrot said. “I already knew how much I loved it, but you get to another level of how much you love doing a sport. Now every day on my board I enjoy it as much as I can. I’m just really positive about it.”
ANNA GASSER TRIPLE?
Austria’s Anna Gasser made history by becoming the first woman to land a cab triple underflip during a training session in 2018. The reigning Olympic big air gold medalist and five-time X Games medalist is thinking about bringing that trick to Aspen this week.
That is, if she can get enough speed in the big air contest.
“It would be a big dream of mine to show it here. It’s the biggest stage to show it,” Gasser said. “I never thought I couldn’t do it. It’s been a goal of mine. Snowboarding is all about feeling and at that moment I just felt it.”
Gasser’s lone Aspen gold came in big air in 2018. She’ll be a contender in both big air and slopestyle this week.
GUS TALKS OLYMPICS
Telluride freeskier Gus Kenworthy recently made news for saying he would now compete for Great Britain instead of the United States, especially when it comes to the 2022 Winter Olympics. His mother is from Britain and he was actually born across the pond, so therefore has the option to compete for either nation.
Kenworthy, a five-time X Games medalist who competes in all three skiing disciplines, said he almost stepped away following the 2018 Olympics and the U.S.’s rigorous qualifying format.
“I was just destroyed. My body was completely wrecked,” Kenworthy said. “I was kind of thinking that was going to be my last Olympics and that was maybe going to be the end of me competing and ultimately just decided I have more in the tank.”
Kenworthy has a renewed energy — and easier route — to get back to the Olympics. Although he did say his competitive ski career will probably come to an end in the next couple of winters.
“Speaking to everyone being so much younger, I remember being announced as the youngest guy at this event and I am for sure one of the oldest guys competing now in ski pipe and slope,” he said. “I know it definitely has a time stamp on it. I think I definitely have two more years for another Olympics and a couple more X Games and I’m really excited about that.”
SILDARU GOES FOR TRIPLE GOLD
Like Kenworthy, Estonian skier Kelly Sildaru is a three-discipline athlete. She won three medals at X Games Aspen last year in roughly 24 hours, and she’ll go for it again this week. Although she admits competing in big air, slopestyle and superpipe is taxing on the body, which has already been through a lot of competitions in recent weeks.
“Didn’t have much time to rest, and now I’m doing big air, slopestyle and halfpipe again,” Sildaru said. “So I’m feeling tired and my body is feeling quite sore. But I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can.”
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Aspen junior Nic Pevny led the way, as he has all season, by shooting 1-over-par 73 to win the individual regional title by two strokes over Vail Christian’s Ross Anderson.