Parrot, McMorris claim Canada's 1st medals, take silver and bronze in snowboard slopestyle

24-year-old McMorris suffered near-fatal crash last March

CBC Sports

Canadian snowboarders Max Parrot and Mark McMorris have won Canada's first medals of the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Parrot captured silver in men's slopestyle while McMorris took bronze.

Click the video below to watch McMorris' bronze-medal run

Redmond Gerard of the United States won the gold.

Mission accomplished

Parrot nailed his third run to bump McMorris out of the silver medal position with a score of 86.00.

"I hit my head twice, a couple were pretty hard actually. But I'm fine, I'm good. My helmet saved me twice and it made it possible to do my third run and actually land it," Parrot told CBC Sports' Perdita Felicien.

That third run guaranteed him his first Olympic medal.

"It's mission accomplished for me here. I'm really happy," said Parrot.

For a while, that mission was up in the air, as Parrot fell on his first two runs. The 23-year-old Bromont, Que., native knew he just had to remain confident heading into his final run. Perhaps a new song would help.

"My heartbeat was going crazy. You know, when that happened I just put on a good song and I just tried to tell myself 'I did it yesterday, I can do it another time in a row, you know?,'" said Parrot.

McMorris had been sitting atop the standings after his second-run score of 85.20 before Gerard surpassed him with 87.16 points in his final attempt. McMorris fell in his final trip down the course.

Gerard, meanwhile, thought Parrot may have outdone him.

"I was really happy when I saw I came in as first. I don't know, Max had a pretty good run, I was questioning it. But you know, judges have their own minds, and I'm super psyched," said Gerard.

Click the video below to watch Gerard's winning run

Speedy recovery

McMorris admits there have been some "low times" in the last year.

The Regina snowboarder was in a hospital bed last March after a life-threatening backcountry crash, unsure that his career would continue because his injuries were so severe.

That he even was able to compete at the Olympics seemed superhuman given how badly he was hurt. The fact he reached the podium in men's slopestyle Sunday justified all the hard work and pain he endured in his recovery.

"It's been some low times, but these high times make it worthwhile," said McMorris. "I'm glad I pulled through that last injury to be here because this is pretty special."

In the crash last March near Whistler, McMorris suffered breaks to his jaw and left arm, a ruptured spleen, a stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung. He spent 10 days in hospital and was on a liquid diet for six weeks.

From the start of his recovery, he was determined to get back to his previous snowboarding form. McMorris showed he could do it by winning a World Cup just eight months after the crash.

"I spent a lot of time in the gym, not a lot of time on my snowboard," said McMorris. "But I'm here and I feel like I'm riding to the best of my ability. I'm just glad to be able to snowboard at all."

Click the video below to watch McMorris with Scott Russell

He won bronze four years ago at the Sochi Games when slopestyle made its Olympic debut. McMorris revealed afterwards he had broken his rib two weeks earlier.

"I don't know, I just was hoping to snowboard 10 months ago someday again and to be competing at this level and grab another medal I feel like I rode to the best of my ability," said McMorris.

McMorris was pleased with his repeat bronze performance, saying he was happy to win another for his country and his crew. But in a judged sport, he still wonders whether he could have done better.

"There were some questionable calls at the end but it is what it is," said McMorris. "Sometimes you're on the winning end of that stick and sometimes you're on the short end and I don't feel like I'm either today. I feel like they judged me pretty well."

Most of the slopestyle competitors will also compete in the big air event in Pyeongchang, a new addition to the Olympic program for 2018. The big air finals are set for Feb. 23-24 at Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre.

With files from Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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