Kate Pettersen - Thursday Feb. 6, 2014 02:21 ET

Maxence Parrot wins Sochi slopestyle qualifying round

Mark McMorris 7th in Sochi slopestyle heat

Sebastien Toutant punches ticket to slopestyle final in Sochi
Canada's Sebastien Toutant competes in the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle qualification at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 6, 2014. (Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)
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Canada's Maxence Parrot posted the highest score (97.5) of the day in the men's slopestyle qualifying round at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. His teammate Sebastien Toutant finished third in his heat.

Mark McMorris, a medal favourite, finished seventh in his heat, failing to earn a direct berth into the final.

All 29 athletes who competed Thursday advanced to the next round, but the top four riders from each heat earned a direct berth into Saturday's final.

"I stomped my triple cork so I'm happy," said Parrot, of Bromont, Que.

"I think the course is awesome, the crowd is awesome. I've travelled around the world and it's really beautiful here."

Toutant of L'Assomption, Que., scored 87.25 in the first heat.

McMorris, who is competing with a rib injury, got off to a rough start with an uncharacteristic fall on his first run, scoring a 29.5. He battled back with a solid second run to finish seventh in his heat with a score of 89.25.  
"Everything felt smooth from top to bottom," said McMorris.

"[The ribs] weren't bothering me at all until that landing jarred my rib and heel. I'm not so happy right now."

The Regina native can still make it to the final with a strong showing in Saturday's semifinal.

"I'm happy with the way I rode but the judges weren't," he said.

"I felt like I had a run that could be in the top four for sure. I'm surprised. It's not what I would have liked. I get another shot. That's all I care about."

It's been a family affair for CBC snowboard analyst Craig Mcmorris, who is the older brother of Mark.

“He put down a really solid second run showing that the rib injury is not an issue and I think that my parents are just enjoying being here,” Craig said.

His praise was not exclusive to family however.

"From what I'm seeing, I'm liking Max. All the Canadians are looking very strong. The Norwegians also looking very strong.

'An ambassador for my sport'

"It feels good," said Parrot.

"I'm proud to represent our country and I'm going to do anything I can to get gold. It is really important for me. I am an ambassador for my sport. Maybe per cent of the whole world doesn't know what slopestyle is and I'm really happy to show what it is."

"I've got something more spectacular to show on Saturday. It's not a secret but I don't want to say anything before these runs."

Staale Sandbech of Norway won the first heat with a score of 94.5. Peetu Piiroinen of Finland finished second with a score of 90.75, and Jamie Nicholls of Great Britain finished fourth, scoring 86.75 on his final run.

Two top slopestyle medal contenders did not compete in Thursday's qualification. American Shaun White pulled out of the event on Wednesday to give himself more time to focus on next week's halfpipe.

"I'm kind of disappointed that he pulled out," said Parrot after hearing the news.

"There's been a couple contests in a row that he pulled out of at the last minute. And I'm just mad about that because I want to compete against him. I want to know who is better." 

"It's just not as exciting to compete at the Olympics when you know the riders under the lights are not there." 

Also missing from competition was Norwegian snowboarder Torstein Horgmo, who broke his collarbone in practice on Monday.

​With files from Olympic News Service.

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