Olympic dream still alive for Mark McMorris in Sochi
Maxence Parrot wins qualifiers for berth in medal final
Canadian slopestyle snowboarders are on target to win the first Olympic gold medal awarded at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The entire team looked strong in Thursday's qualification event, including top contender Mark McMorris, who is competing with a rib injury.
But it was Maxence Parrot of Bromont, Que., who really stood out. His score of 97.5 was the highest of the day.
Both Parrot and Sebastien Toutant of L'Assomption, Que., punched their tickets straight to Saturday's final with top-four finishes in their respective heats. Toutant capped the day with a score of 87.25, finishing third in his heat to advance to the final.
Parrot has been riding well since arriving in Sochi and praises the Olympic slopestyle course.
"I like to try and ride everything and kind of have a challenge to ride something," said Parrot. "The rails are really fun, too. There's so many options so it's a real good course."
The 19-year-old is coming into the Winter Games off the heels of two straight slopestyle wins; the final Olympic qualification event in Stoneham, Que., and at X Games in Aspen, Colo.
"I'm a guy with a lot of determination and I want to win," said Parrot. "It's important for me to put my name in history. 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."
Gold medal hopeful McMorris got off to a rough start in qualifications 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.
After the event, many athletes and members of the snowboard industry took to social media to express their frustration with the judges' scoring. Many people felt McMorris deserved a higher score, perhaps one good enough for a direct berth into the final.
So basically, instead of getting eliminated, if you don't make Top 4 you have to repeat this contest like groundhog day before Sat's finals
— ESPN Snowboarding (@ESPN_Snow) February 6, 2014
"I'm happy with the way I rode but the judges weren't," said McMorris."I felt like I had a run that could be in the top four for sure. I'm suprised. It's not what I would have liked."
"It's a tough sport. I guess [the judges] weren't on my side. It felt really clean, smooth and technical. I'm just kind of bummed out. I'm really happy with the way I rode. I'm happy I get another shot on Saturday."
Athletes train for years for the Olympics...in related news, the judges will attend a training course on judging tomorrow afternoon.
— Fergie (@Goodlife_inc) February 6, 2014
McMorris will be joined by teammate Charles Reid of Mont Tremblant, Que., in the semifinal on Saturday morning.
In the women's event Spencer O'Brien of Courtenay, B.C., laid down a solid first run, scoring 82.75 to finish third in the first of two heats. She will compete in the women's slopestyle medal event on Sunday.