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Max Parrot wins X Games snowboard big air, one year after cancer diagnosis

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Canadian Max Parrot won the biggest annual contest in big air snowboarding, 13 months after being diagnosed with cancer.

Parrot captured the X Games Aspen big air title on Saturday night, his sixth career gold medal in Colorado. But his first since Dec. 21, 2018, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“Just to be out here, one year later since I wasn’t here last year, that’s already amazing,” Parrot, who announced July 25 that he beat cancer after 12 rounds of chemotherapy, said on ESPN.

Parrot, an Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, landed a cab triple cork 1620, backside 1620, frontside triple 1620 and a cab 1800, according to broadcasters. He relegated countryman Mark McMorris to silver.

X Games events this year are scored in a jam-session format, where riders are ranked on overall impression rather than a single best run.

McMorris tied Shaun White‘s record of 18 Winter X Games medals across all sites, including in Europe. Parrot also won his comeback event at X Games Norway on Aug. 31.

Later Saturday, the U.S. was shut out of the women’s halfpipe medals for the first time since the X Games moved to Aspen in 2002.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet ended the Americans’ 10-year run of gold medals that included Kelly Clark (now retired) and Chloe Kim (taking the year off to study at Princeton). Maddie Mastro, who beat Kim at the 2019 season-ending Burton U.S. Open, failed to land her signature double crippler and finished eighth. She was the only American in the field.

Two nights earlier, the U.S. failed to earn a men’s halfpipe medal for the first time at an Aspen X Games.

Earlier Saturday, two-time Olympic slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson won her sixth X Games Aspen title, one year after missing the slopestyle event after taking a hard fall in big air. Anderson has earned an X Games medal in all 13 of her slopestyle appearances dating to 2006, when she debuted at 15.

In other Saturday events, Canadian Darcy Sharpe won men’s snowboard slopestyle, while U.S. Olympic champion Red Gerard was third for his first X Games medal.

American Colby Stevenson won a ski slopestyle final that lacked Gus Kenworthy, who was seventh in qualifying. Estonian Kelly Sildaru added a ski halfpipe crown to her three slopestyle titles.

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Japan’s 17-year-old Takeru Otsuka gets X Games Big Air gold

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17-year-old Takeru Otsuka of Japan came out victorious under the lights at the X Games Friday night in Aspen, taking home gold in Snowboard Big Air.

Otsuka was ready for his Aspen debut, after winning the event at last year’s X Games Norway. After sketching out on his first attempt, Otsuka landed a frontside triple cork 1800 tail grab, earning hime 43.00 points from the judges. His final attempt was a squeaky clean cab triple 1620 with a locked in indy grab, which thrust Otsuka into the lead with 88.00 total points.

Canada’s Mark McMorris, who has had to make repeated comebacks from injuries over the past two years, finished with silver behind Otsuka, with Sweden’s Sven Thorgren getting bronze.  

According to the Aspen Times, McMorris was just a little over a month removed from having surgery to remove pins from his leg, and riding in the X Games Big Air event on Friday was only the fifth time he had been on the white stuff since being relieved of the pins.

McMorris suffered multiple injuries after a frightening brush with death back in 2017 when he slammed into a tree while snowboarding in the backcountry. His list of injuries included fractures to his jaw, arm, pelvis, ribs, a ruptured spleen and collapsed left lung. McMorris was able to heal and compete at the 2018 PeyongChang Olympics where he won his second Olympic bronze medal in Slopestyle.

Canada’s 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air gold medalist Sebastien Toutant finished off the podium in Aspen in fourth. The U.S.’ 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air silver medalist Kyle Mack and bronze medalist Billy Morgan of Great Britain did not compete in Aspen.

Otsuka has also had success this season on the World Cup, posting wins in both Big Air and Slopestyle.

Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles win ESPYs

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Michael PhelpsUsain Bolt and Simone Biles earned ESPY awards on Wednesday for their Rio Olympic triumphs.

Phelps earned best record-breaking performance for extending his records for most Olympic medals (28) and gold medals (23).

“Today is my wife’s birthday, and we met here 10 years ago,” said Phelps, who was also named the best male U.S. Olympic athlete. “It’s the most amazing thing in the world.”

Bolt won best international athlete for a third time. He also did so in 2013 and 2017, one year after sweeping the Olympic 100m and 200m as he did in Rio.

Biles took best female U.S. Olympic athlete and best female athlete over nominees including Katie Ledecky.

“Ever since Rio, it has been an amazing year, and the best part of all has been meeting all of the young people who look up to all the athletes in this room,” Biles said in her acceptance speech. “It is an incredible honor and responsibility of being a role model.”

Snowboarding stars Mark McMorris and Anna Gasser won best action sports athlete awards.

A full list of winners is here.

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