Max Parrot: Canadian snowboarder wins Olympic gold, three years after cancer diagnosis

Gold medalist Max Parrot celebrates with his medal during the men's snowboarding slopestyle medal ceremony at Medal Plaza on February 7, 2022.

(CNN)Snowboarder Max Parrot won an Winter Olympic gold medal in Beijing on Monday, just over three years after the Canadian was diagnosed with cancer.

Having won silver in the men's slopestyle event at PyeongChang four years ago, the 27-year-old went one better at the Genting Snow Park to secure his first ever Olympic gold medal.
His best score of 90.96 was enough to beat Chinese 17-year-old Su Yiming's best attempt of 88.70, and compatriot Mark McMorris' bronze medal performance made it two Canadians on the podium.
    Diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in December 2018, Parrot underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy before announcing in July 2019 that he had "won" against cancer.
      Speaking after triumph in Beijing, Parrot reflected on his "nightmare" journey over the past four years.
        "It's definitely amazing," Parrot said.
        "They were really hard times and, at times, I felt like I was a lion in a cage because I wasn't able to do what I love the most, which is snowboarding.
          "That was the first time in my life that I had to put my snowboard in the closet. Snowboarding is all I know, so it was really hard for me."
          Canadian pair Parrot and McMorris celebrate their medals.

          New perspective

          A seven-time X Games champion, Parrot said that his cancer battle has given him a new-found love for snowboarding, as well as a new perspective on life itself.
          "As a person, I used to take life for granted before, and now I don't," he said.
          "Every time I strap my feet onto my snowboard, I appreciate it so much more than before. I appreciate being able to do my passion every day.
          "You're smiling more, everything's more positive. You put less pressure on yourself, less stress on yourself."
          Parrot during his final run.
          This attitude underpinned what Parrot described as "the biggest run" of his career, the Canadian landing two consecutive triples on his second attempt to edge past Su.
          "I kept telling everyone I want to grab a gold. And to have it finally at my third Olympics feels really amazing," Parrot said.
          "This is so incredibly special, especially with the run I did today. I've never done two triples in a row in a run, with that difficulty as well, and everything was so clean.
          "I am extremely proud of myself and to take gold on that run means so much for me."
          Parrot performs a trick en route to gold.

          Controversy

          However, the result did not come without controversy, with Parrot appearing to grab his knee, rather than his board, during a jump of his pivotal second run -- a mistake that could have seen his score penalized by judges.
          Such a removal of points may have been significant enough to move Su into gold medal position, with BBC commentator Ed Leigh saying that judges were "distraught" after their alleged mistake.
          China's Su Yiming competes during the final.
          The change may also have affected Parrot's compatriot McMorris, who narrowly missed out on silver with his best score of 88.53 on his final run.
          It marks a third consecutive Olympics bronze for the 28-year-old, having finished 3rd at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.
            That bronze four years ago came just 11 months after the Canadian nearly died in a snowboarding accident.
            After suffering a fractured jaw, ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, multiple broken bones and a collapsed lung, McMorris said he was "pretty sure he was going to die," but recovered to win an Olympic medal within a year.