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Snowboarder Parrot’s slopestyle gold caps four-medal day for Canada

Canadians also took bronze in slopestyle, speedskating and ski jumping

Snowboarder Max Parrot led the way with a golden performance as Canada rebounded from a disappointing Sunday to collect four medals at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

Parrot won Canada’s first gold medal in Beijing with a dominant performance in the men’s snowboard slopestyle, while teammate Mark McMorris took the bronze.

Speedskater Kim Boutin added a bronze medal in the women’s 500-metres and Canada’s ski jumpers made history with a bronze in the mixed team event.

It’s the second time in two Games that Parrot, from Bromont, Que., and Regina’s McMorris have appeared together on the slopestyle podium. Parrot finished with the silver four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea, while McMorris took bronze.

McMorris also won bronze at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Parrot’s Olympic title came three years after he underwent chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.

“I had no more muscles, no more energy, no more cardio. I remember I was drawn by my treatments,” said Parrot, with a Canadian flag draped over his shoulders. “I almost wanted to quit sometimes because it was getting so hard just to get to the next morning.

“To be standing here three years later and winning gold, that is completely crazy.”

It was a day of firsts on the big hill as the team of Alexandria Loutitt, Matthew Soukup, Abigail Strate and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes won Canada’s first ever ski jumping medal.

Toronto’s Boyd-Clowes, 30, secured the bronze on Canada’s final jump, travelling 101.5 metres and scoring 128.1 points.

The mixed team event, which took place at the Zhangjiakou Ski Jump Centre, was making its Olympic debut at the Beijing Games.

The medal was a surprise for the Canadians, who have been steadily climbing the world rankings despite a number of challenges in recent years, including being forced to move their training base to Slovenia after the former training site in Calgary was shut down.

“It kind of shows that even though our sport was struggling and there wasn’t a lot left there, we still pursued our passion and our love kind of came through,” Loutitt said.

Boutin, meanwhile, won her second straight Olympic bronze in the women’s 500-metre event. The medal, her fourth, means she is now tied with Tania Vicent as Canada’s most decorated female short-track speedskater.

Boutin, the world record holder in the event, finished third in a time of 42.724 seconds, behind Italian great Arianna Fontana who won gold in a time of 42.488 thanks to a late push past Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands, who claimed silver in 42.559.

The 27-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., who has struggled in the aftermath of online death threats she faced following her 2018 performance, broke into a wide grin as she crossed the finish line.

Canada now has two multi-medal days since hardware started being handed out on Saturday.

Skier Jack Crawford of Toronto came close to adding to Canada’s haul with a fourth-place finish in the men’s downhill. Canada also finished fourth in the team figure skating event, which featured another standout performance from 18-year-old Madeline Schizas, who is competing at her first Olympics.

Crawford went 12th in the men’s downhill, and his time of 1:42.92 was good for second place after his run.

It wasn’t quite enough, as gold medallist Beat Feuz of Switzerland knocked Crawford down to third on the very next run, and 19th skier Johan Clarey of France knocked the Canadian out of medal contention.

Crawford ended up 0.07 seconds behind bronze medallist Matthias Mayer of Austria.

“There’s a lot of good skiers that were supposed to come down after me, so when I crossed the finish line I was super excited,” Crawford said.

“I knew it would be a decent day. But I also knew there were a lot of guys that were big threats. It only took two, but that’s an Olympic medal. Hopefully I can bring it out tomorrow and ski the way I’m skiing in the super-G.”

While Canada fell short of repeating as team figure skating champion, it was a strong debut for Schizas.

The native of Oakville, Ont., was third in women’s singles free skate, following up a solid short program two days earlier that had propelled Canada into the final round.

Skating to Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” Schizas was virtually flawless en route to scoring 132.04 points.

“I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous,” she said. “But I think one of my strengths is just being able to get out there and do it. I treat it as a job … obviously there’s emotion behind it, we work towards it forever. But I try not to let it be too emotional.”

Russia won the team gold with 74 points, while the U.S. took the silver with 65 and Japan won bronze with 63.

Meanwhile, Canada won’t defend its mixed curling title after John Morris of Canmore, Alta., and Ottawa’s Rachel Homan lost 8-7 in an extra end to Italy in their final preliminary round game. Two measures were needed to confirm that Canada’s final stone was outside the winning Italian rock.

Canada came into Monday’s action needing a win over undefeated Italy after dropping an extra-end decision to last-place Australia the night before.

Canada had a chance to put pressure on the Italians while up 7-5 in the eighth end, but Homan was light with her final draw that set up an Italian deuce.

With guards cleared in the extra end, the Canadians slightly mismanaged their final shot.

“It’s a heartbreaking loss,” Morris said. “That’s as tough as they get in your life. We battled with everything we had.”

Canada finished tied in fourth place at 5-4, but Sweden took the tiebreaker to move on to the evening semifinals. Italy (9-0), Norway (6-3) and Great Britain (6-3) earned the top three seeds.

And in women’s hockey, Canada defeated Russia 6-1 in a game that was delayed when the Canadians refused to leave their locker room because COVID-19 tests taken earlier in the day by the Russian athletes had not yet been processed. The game finally got underway with players from both teams wearing masks underneath their face cages.

Canada’ improved to 3-0, spreading the scoring around in their win over Russia.

Sarah Fillier, Jamie Lee Rattray, Sarah Nurse, Rebecca Johnston, Erin Ambrose and captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored for Canada, who will meet Team USA on Tuesday.

The game was able to go when the International Ice Hockey Federation eventually reached a compromise to have players from both teams wear masks, a first at the Beijing Olympics.

Forward Oxana Bratisheva said through a team translator that the Russian team was initially told the game would be postponed before being told it would proceed an hour late.

The Russian players eventually were allowed to remove their masks at the start of the third period after the test results showed no one was positive. The Canadians kept their masks on.

—The Canadian Press

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