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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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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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Mark McMorris: I thought I was going to die

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Mark McMorris, after regaining consciousness, thought we was going to die following slamming into a tree while snowboarding March 25, according to the Canadian Press.

“I didn’t think I’d ever snowboard again when I was laying there after I hit that tree,” McMorris, the Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist, said, according to the report. “I was awake and was waiting. As soon as the helicopter got there [90 minutes later] I went to sleep. I remember the whole time waiting, just trying to survive because ruptured spleen and all that, and my jaw was just hanging. I was puking. I thought I was going to die — literally.”

McMorris suffered a broken jaw and left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung from the backcountry crash in British Columbia.

“I broke everything, like 16 bones or something in one hit,” McMorris said, according to the Canadian Press. “That’s like a car crash.”

McMorris does plan to snowboard again, hopefully at the PyeongChang Winter Games. He was limited physically for one month after surgeries to control bleeding and repair the broken bones. He was on a liquid diet for six weeks, according to the Canadian Press.

McMorris already has a provisional spot on the Canadian Olympic team and could earn medals in slopestyle and the new event of big air.

McMorris’ older brother, Craig, was the first to find him after the crash on March 25. By then, McMorris had regained consciousness, but he was struggling to breathe with blood in his mouth, reports said.

“When you get injured usually it’s like, ‘Oh man I’m so bummed, but I can’t wait until the next time I can snowboard,'” McMorris said this week, according to the Canadian Press. “This time I was like, ‘I can’t wait until the next time I can move again or like — live.'”

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