'I had the run of the day': McMorris slams scoring in snowboard event won by fellow Canadian Parrot

Canada's gold medallist Max Parrot, left, and bronze medallist McMorris, right, are seen during the medal ceremony for men's snowboard slopestyle at the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canada's gold medallist Max Parrot, left, and bronze medallist McMorris, right, are seen during the medal ceremony for men's snowboard slopestyle at the Beijing Winter Olympics. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)

One Canadian is defending the integrity of his gold medal while another claims it should belong to him after a judging error in the Olympic men's snowboard slopestyle event.

Regina's Mark McMorris took bronze in the event, while fellow Canadian Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., won gold.

But McMorris now says he perhaps should have been the one standing atop the podium — and not Parrot.

"Obviously would have been nice to have a different shade of medal. But knowing that I kind of had the run of the day and one of the best rounds of my life and the whole industry knows what happened — pretty, pretty crazy," McMorris told CBC Sports in a recent interview from China.

Replays after the event showed Parrot missing a grab on one of his jumps, clutching his knees instead of the board. However, he wasn't scored down by judges for the mistake, and eventually took gold by just over two points.

"Everyone that snowboards knows I missed that grab. I'm not hiding from that. It is what it is," Parrot told CBC Sports.

Parrot's winning run garnered 90.96 points. China's Su Yiming was second at 88.70, while McMorris walked away with his third consecutive bronze in the event at 88.53.

WATCH | Side-by-side look at McMorris and Parrot's medal-winning runs:

But Parrot, who said he knew he missed his grab right away, insists his run was still worthy of gold.

"I admire Mark, I admire Su ... I think in the end the only difference is they had multiple small mistakes and I only had one, which was definitely bigger, I agree," Parrot said.

"But in the end, it's a judged sport and the fact is I had the most technical run of the day on pretty much every feature. And no, it wasn't perfect, and I think that's why I didn't score 100 either."

Parrot, 29, disagreed with the assertion that his 28-year-old teammate put down the "run of the day."

He said he wasn't expecting "a really high score like 95 or something" on his winning run, but still thought the score would be good despite the missed grab.

"Even that jump, my amplitude was really high. And I went big and I landed perfectly, no hands down. I kind of rode straight, no edging in the landing. And I know the judges like to have a really clean landing. So the overall run was extremely clean," he said.

'The feed they had was garbage'

CBC Sports snowboard analyst Craig McMorris, Mark McMorris' older brother, said Parrot's missed grab was the equivalent of coming off a rail early or falling.

"Max did a really good veteran thing of like, 'Hey, put your hands very close.' He's flipping and spinning so fast and [the judges] have to get the score in so fast. So they're obviously like, 'He grabbed it' and then it's so easy for everyone to watch it a million times over and dissect it and be like, 'Well, no, he didn't,'" the elder McMorris said.

Mark McMorris said Parrot's move to grab his knees was a measure to save himself from landing on his head.

"Usually that would be considered a 'not make,'" McMorris said. "But the judges missed it, and I'm sure they're feeling s----y about it. But it's not their fault that the feed they had was garbage."

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The nine judges who assign scores while watching the competition off a video feed can ask for replay if needed. But Iztok Sumatic, the head judge for Olympic snowboarding in Beijing, told the magazine Whitelines that it did not happen in this instance.

"We just had this camera angle that they gave us and it looked clean. It wasn't just us, there were coaches we spoke to after who said, 'Hey, when we saw that, we were like, 'Bam, this is an insane run,'" Sumatic said.

"We judged what we saw and everyone felt confident with it."

Sumatic said that if the judges had seen the miss, Parrot would have received a different score.

"But there are so many factors. All I can say, in Max's defence, regarding this specific run, is that it was still an insane run. He killed it, especially on the rails."

The ultimate blame for the mistake may lie with the local organizing committee. A French rider not competing at the Olympics and a high-ranking snowboard official both said on social media that the committee should have provided better video footage to judges, possibly by hiring professional snowboarding producers.

Rematch in big air

The McMorris brothers agreed the mistake likely affected the medal standings, while Sumatic may have implied the same in saying Parrot's score would have been "different" in such a close podium race.

After the event, Su became the top trending topic on Chinese social-media site Weibo, according to South China Morning Post, with supporters saying he was robbed.

Neither McMorris nor Su filed an official appeal, meaning the results will stand.

Marko Djurica/Reuters
Marko Djurica/Reuters

All three competitors will reconvene on Feb. 14 when the big air event begins. Craig McMorris listed all three as favourites in the competition.

Parrot said he's received some "hate" on social media in the aftermath of the event from within the snowboarding community, especially those who carry longstanding issues with his more "athletic" approach in favour of the style long associated with the sport.

"All the purists, they all are not really fans of the Olympics and they all wish snowboarding was not in the Olympics," he said.

'Sometimes you win when you're not supposed to'

Meanwhile, if McMorris really was stripped of his gold-medal moment, he won't dwell on it.

"It definitely ain't everything in snowboarding. I think it's more like, the Olympics is lucky to have us with all those other sports that are kind of just a little dull," he said.

"Obviously it's a sick thing to get. And I would love to get [an Olympic gold medal]. But at the end of the day, I just want to go out there and land my hardest s--t and land it really well."

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

In an extreme sport where medallists are determined by judges, McMorris said he'll no longer weigh himself by his scores.

"I'm kind of done talking like, 'Oh, it's a disappointment if I don't get a gold medal' or 'I need that' because you can land the best stuff and sometimes the judges mess up," McMorris said.

"Or sometimes you win when you're not supposed to, and sometimes you get second or third when you're supposed to win it."