Canada's Parrot quiets critics with bronze in big air for 2nd medal of Beijing Olympics

Canada's Max Parrot has won his second medal of the Beijing Olympics, taking bronze in snowboard big air on Tuesday.

Quebec native's previous slopestyle gold was called into question after judging error

Canada's Max Parrot celebrates with the national flag after taking bronze in the snowboard big air final on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Any doubting of Max Parrot's snowboarding ability can now be put to rest.

The Canadian brought home bronze in big air on Tuesday for his second medal at the Beijing Olympics. 

"It means a lot to me. To go to the Olympics and bring back two medals within two weeks, it's definitely insane to me," Parrot said.

The 27-year-old from Bromont, Que., previously won gold in slopestyle, but saw his victory immediately come into question after it was revealed he missed a grab during his winning run, but wasn't scored down for it by the judges.

WATCH | Parrot stomps run en route to big air bronze:

The judges later admitted the mistake, leading fellow Canadian Mark McMorris, who took bronze in the event, to tell CBC Sports that he should've stood atop the slopestyle podium instead of Parrot.

Regina's McMorris later apologized, then went on to place 10th in big air after falling on his final two runs.

China's Su Yiming, who scored slopestyle silver, moved up a step to gold in big air. Norway's Mons Roisland soared to silver.

Though questions about the judges continued through big air qualifying — which Parrot topped — he deserves full credit for his steely performance in the final.

From left to right, Roisland, Su and Parrot celebrate together after landing on the big air podium. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Parrot fell on his first jump at the Big Air Shougang venue, setting up a pressure-packed final two runs. Unlike slopestyle, where only your best run counts, big air standings are determined by a snowboarder's top two runs.

The Canadian quickly put himself in the conversation with his second jump, landing a near-flawless cab backside triple cork 1,800 to earn 94 points — the second-highest single-jump score of the day. He said later it was better than any 1,800 (five spins) he'd landed in practice.

Third through the gates in final run, Parrot put down a 1,620 to score 76.25 points and sit in the silver-medal position.

"My initial strategy was to go for two 18s, but that was if I landed the first run," he told CBC's Yanick Bourdon. "So with that being said, I went for the strategy of going for the 16. I knew it wasn't going to take me to first place, unfortunately, but I really wanted to just be consistent and at least get a second medal home."

From there, it was a waiting game. But only Roisland could overtake Parrot's combined best score of 170.25, and he did it by just a single point.

McMorris applauded his teammate for his podium performance.

"Max did great," he said. "To fall on his first run and come back and get two lands, really impressive... He should be super stoked."

The 17-year-old Su, meanwhile, had the gold medal wrapped up after just two jumps. He took a victory lap and finished with 182.50 points.

"I got silver in slopestyle and I was so happy to land a run and be on the podium with Max [Parrot] and Mark McMorris, my idols," he said.

"Today, big air ... I was just trying to do my best and to enjoy the competition. But I can't believe I got this gold."

Canada's Max Parrot performs a trick on his second run during the men's snowboard big air final on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Parrot called it "the most insane final we have ever seen in snowboarding" as rider after rider, especially in the early going, landed 1,800s.

The apparent emphasis on technique over style favoured Parrot, who told CBC Sports recently that "there's a lot of hate about where snowboarding is going."

It's part of the reason his missed grab caused such a stir — that key aspect of a trick is what Parrot said separates snowboarding from gymnastics. It's not just about rotating in mid-air — you have to be able to do that while looking cool, too.

"In the past 10 years, I've always been seen more as an athlete in the snowboard community. Back then I was the only one doing trampoline, going to the gym, [trying] to get more fit and a lot of people were hating on that," he said. "Now these days, pretty much all the athletes go to the gym."

Su was plotting to drop a 1980 in his final run. He was happy to keep it in his back pocket when it wasn't necessary.

"When that moment actually arrived, I was so excited," he said via interpreter. "In that moment, I wanted to enjoy it and take it all in."

McMorris falls to 10th

McMorris, who would be classified more as a style rider, landed his first jump to earn a solid score of 80.50, but fell on each of his next two attempts. Unlike Parrot, he suggested his strategy was more gold-or-bust.

"Frustrated a little bit, could've maybe toned it back a bit and landed in that fourth, fifth position but happy I went for it," the 28-year-old said after the race.

McMorris now has three career Olympic medals — all bronze, all won in slopestyle. The wait for the first Olympic title of his decorated career will extend to 2026 in Italy.

"Close, but back to the drawing board," he said.

For Parrot, his latest podium appearance was also another chapter in his remarkable comeback from cancer.

The Canadian was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma not long after the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and was forced to miss the entire season as he underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy over six months.

His return to sport came swiftly when he won big air gold at the 2019 X Games just two months after being declared cancer-free.

"Just thinking of snowboarding again is actually what made me motivated the whole time," he said. "I wanted to be able to do my passion again."

With his performance in Beijing after taking slopestyle silver in Pyeongchang, Parrot now has three Olympic medals — one of each colour.

As for his celebration?

"A lot of champagne back home, that's for sure."

WATCH | Full replay of men's big air final:

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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