Canada’s Parrot wins third straight X Games Big Air title; Battling ailment, lone U.S. rider Corning ties for fourth
Twenty-nine days out from the inaugural Olympic Big Air competition at South Korea’s Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot is riding a wave of momentum after his Big Air victory Friday night at X Games Aspen.
Parrot pulled out a switch triple cork 1800 and a frontside triple cork 1440 on a cold and clear night at Buttermilk Mountain to win his third consecutive and fourth overall X Games Aspen gold medal.
Parrot, who competed for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympic slopestyle finals, bested some of his top competition for next month’s Olympic snowboard slopestyle and Big Air events Friday night.
The group included Friday night’s silver medalist and 2017 X Games Aspen Big Air silver medalist Marcus Kleveland of Norway and Friday night’s bronze medalist Yuki Kadono of Japan, who won the 2016 X Games Oslo event and on Friday failed to execute a backside quad cork 1980 — a trick never seen before in competition.
Parrot took a victory lap down the jump — the biggest for these international stars on the year, with a 65-foot high drop-in — after it was confirmed Kleveland only compiled a score of 73 through five runs, one point shy of Parrot’s total.
“It was a very tough night,” Parrot said after another gold medal was placed around his neck. “The contest was pretty hard, all the riders killed it.”
Looking to the Olympics, Parrot predicted little carryover from Friday night’s event to the Feb. 21 Olympic Big Air qualifications and the Feb. 24 finals. That’s because Friday night’s contest featured a 25-minute jam session for the eight finalists, with their best two scores counting toward their total. The snowboarders also had to land one run on the left and right for their scores to count.
“The Olympics is a little bit different,” Parrot said. “It’s a different format as well. Only three runs. Here we had five runs. It was a different strategy. It’s going to be a different jump, probably smaller than here. We’ll see over there in practice what it feels like.”
The first snowboarder Friday night was the sole American in the contest: 18-year-old Summit County shredder Chris Corning. The Silverthorne snowboarder sported a U.S. flag buff as he dropped in, one his parents Brook and Laura brought up for him via his sponsor Never Summer.
The only boarder repping the red, white and blue quite literally, Corning pieced together a Backside 1440 on his first go-around and a front 14 grabbing melon in the other direction on his second run to top the leaderboard after two rounds with 53 points.
Corning would end the night in a tie for fourth place with 61 points, but the effort to challenge for a medal was a victory in and of itself for Corning, as the young Summit County snowboarder spent the morning in a local hospital due to a sudden stomach bug.
“This morning I was at the hospital, got fluids put in me, I was not good last night,” Corning said about an hour-and-a-half before the competition. “I lost a lot so I went to the hospital, but it’s just kind of a headache now.
“Today I’m just trying to get over it,” he added. “I’m going in just trying to have as much fun as I can. This has been a lifelong dream of mine.”