If the first snowboard slopestyle competition of the season is any indication, Canada may have a lot to cheer for when the event makes its Olympic debut in Sochi in February.
Regina’s Mark McMorris took gold at the Dew Tour on Sunday, finishing the 17-man field with a 97.80 points, while fellow Canadian Maxence Parrot of Bromont, Que., finished third with 89.00. Montreal’s Sebastien Toutant placed fourth with 87.60.
Sven Thorgren of Sweden prevented Canada from sweeping the podium, taking silver with 91.00 points.
“Canada is just destroying it right now,” McMorris said. “The slopes team is really strong and I think we’re going to have a really good showing in Sochi.”
After a fall in qualifying, McMorris collected 95.00 points in his first run of the final, which featured his signature straight double backflip, and a backside 1080 double cork. He capped his second run with a 1440 triple cork.
“I was going at the last jump not sure what I wanted to do exactly, a double (cork) or a triple (cork), but if I’m not at the head of the pack going into my second run, I’m definitely going to have to go for it,” said the 20-year-old McMorris.
“I had nothing to lose. I told myself everything was going perfect and I had to do a triple.”
For Parrot, Sunday’s performance marked his first career medal in three years on the Dew Tour circuit.
“It’s great to finally get on the podium,” Parrot said. “I think I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my manoeuvres and executing them at high speed.”
Like McMorris, Parrot was happy to see Canada excel at the season’s opening event.
“We got three Canadians in the top 4 so I think that’s pretty good,” the 19-year-old said. “We had the possibility to get a sweep of the podium and I think it would be possible in the next events and that would be amazing.”
American snowboarding star Shaun White was forced to drop out of Sunday’s event after injuring his ankle on a fall in the halfpipe finals on Saturday.
McMorris said he was disappointed to hear that his stiffest competition had to withdraw.
“It was too bad he couldn’t compete today,” McMorris said. “But his ankle is hurt and nobody likes to be hurt.”
The Canadian slope team travels to Copper Mountain in Copper, Colo., next weekend for the first of four Grand Prix events ahead of the Winter Games. The following three competitions will be held in Northstar, Calif., and a double stop at Mammoth, Calif.
Toutant said Sunday’s event was a good measuring stick to begin the season.
“It was our first competition this season and it was a great opportunity to see where everyone is at,” he said. “I’m looking forward to now preparing for the World Cups and hopefully the Olympics in the New Year.”