Snowboarder wins Canada's first medal
Mark McMorris won bronze in men's slopestyle Saturday to give Canada its first medal of the Sochi Olympics.
The Regina snowboarder, competing just a few weeks after breaking a rib, turned in a strong second run at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park to finish third with 88.75 points.
"I would have loved to be in the gold medal position but with what I've been through in the last two weeks, just standing on the podium in general feels like a gold medal to me," said McMorris.
American Sage Kotsenburg won gold with a score of 93.50. Norway's Staale Sandbech took the silver with a 91.75.
McMorris did well just to make it to Sochi, where slopestyle is making its Olympic debut. He had a team of specialists who helped him get back in form and he was able to deal with the pain.
McMorris struggled in qualifying and needed a third-place result in the morning semifinal just to qualify for the 12-man final.
Once he got there, he had a disappointing first run but turned things around in the second and final run. McMorris was strong on the rails and just as steady on the jumps, landing a backside triple cork 1440 to cap his impressive effort.
"It was an amazing feeling to do that," he said. "That was a run I really wanted to do."
McMorris then had to watch 10 other competitors do their second run before his medal was guaranteed.
"I was just praying to not get bumped down," he said.
With his bronze hanging in the balance, teammate Maxence Parrot was the final rider to head down the course. The reigning X Games champion from Bromont, Que., also had a solid run and looked pleased with his effort.
The tension was palpable over the long minute before the judges' scores were posted.
McMorris was sure Parrot had done enough and actually started to leave the finish area. He stopped a short distance away and watched the scoreboard from there.
When the results made it to the screen, Parrot dropped his head in disappointment. McMorris had his bronze after all.
"It was like truthfully the most insane roller-coaster ever," McMorris said of his week.
Montreal's Sebastien Toutant finished ninth. Charles Reid of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was eliminated in the semifinal round after finishing 14th.
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