Cancer survivor Parrot soars to snowboard gold; Shiffrin crashes out of giant slalom

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Canada’s Max Parrot celebrates on the podium after winning gold in the snowboard slopestyle on Monday. Agence France-Presse

Zhangjiakou: Three years ago Max Parrot was in hospital fighting cancer — on Monday he won men’s snowboard slopestyle gold at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The Canadian, who said chemotherapy left him “at zero percent” when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2018, beat 17-year-old Chinese home favourite Su Yiming to win gold with a score of 90.96.

“Exactly three years ago I was lying in a hospital and I had no energy, no muscles, no cardio,” said the 27-year-old Parrot, the silver medallist at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

“It was the hardest moment of my life and to be standing here three years later at the Olympics again, doing my passion, laying down the best run I’ve ever done and winning gold — it’s insane.”

Parrot took the lead on the second run and held on despite a tenacious challenge from Su, whose high-flying antics thrilled the small but enthusiastic crowd at Genting Snow Park.

Su claimed silver on 88.70 points, giving China their first ever medal in men’s snowboarding.

“It’s a dream come true, for sure,” said Su, who has only competed in six events on the World Cup circuit.

“It’s my first time at the Olympics, and in my hometown — I’m so happy to put my runs down today and share the podium with my idols.”

Another Canadian, Mark McMorris, took the bronze with 88.53 points, edging out American defending champion Red Gerard on his final run.

Double gold medallist Mikaela Shiffrin slid out in her bitterly disappointing opening race at the Beijing Olympics on Monday as two teenagers made their mark on their Games debuts.

Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian, created figure skating history by becoming the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition — and not content with doing it once she did it again.

And Californian-born Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu, 18, held her nerve to seal a place in the final of the Big Air event on her Games bow.

Shiffrin slides out as teenagers make impact: Defending champion Shiffrin was among the favourites to retain the women’s giant slalom title and win a third Olympic gold medal of her career, but in bright morning sunshine she made an error near the top of her first run and her race was over.

“There’s a huge disappointment, not even counting medals,” the 26-year-old said. “The day was finished basically before it even started.”

Shiffrin vowed to move on and quickly concentrate on Wednesday’s shorter slalom, a more technical event in which she is a four-time world champion. With Shiffrin out, Sara Hector of Sweden won the giant slalom for her first individual victory at a major championship.

Shiffrin’s Norwegian boyfriend Aleksander Aamodt Kilde completed a miserable day for skiing’s golden couple when he could only finish fifth in the men’s downhill despite starting as favourite.

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz mastered a treacherous course to win the most prestigious race in Olympic skiing, improving on his bronze from Pyeongchang four years ago. Experience counted as the 34-year-old clocked 1min 42.69sec to finish 0.10sec ahead of 41-year-old Frenchman Johan Clarey, who became the oldest man or woman in history to win an Olympic alpine skiing medal.

Austria’s Matthias Mayer finished third while Kilde was more than half a second adrift of the winner.

“The Olympics are a big thing and today it worked for me… It means the world to me,” Feuz said.

“I can’t think of anything more beautiful than flying home with a gold medal around my neck.”

At the Big Air Shougang venue, where enormous industrial cooling towers provide a gritty backdrop to the skiers’ gravity-defying mid-air moves, Gu took her Olympic bow.

The teenager, who has captivated China since switching allegiance from the United States three years ago, misjudged her second attempt, coming down in a tangle on her second run. She responded with a shrug and a smile and, with the pressure on, produced an assured third run to reach Tuesday’s final — and give herself a chance of gold.

“Oh my god!” she exclaimed to the cameras.

At the Capital Indoor Stadium, Valieva landed the quadruple jumps — when a skater rotates four times in the air — as she helped the Russians win gold in the figure skating team event.

Agence France-Presse

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