Olympics Today: Canadian snowboarders have style on and off slopes

Canada's Max Parrot of Bromont, Que. flies through the air during his second run in the men's snowboard slopestyle qualification at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

During each day of the Games, Olympics Today will keep you up to date on the biggest news and happenings, on and off the field of play.

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They came in as the favourites and they delivered in qualifying. Four Canadian riders are going through to the snowboard slopestyle final.

Quebec’s Sebastien Toutant started things off in heat number one of qualifying, where riders get two runs down the course with their higher score counting in the standings. In his first run he opened with a front side 1080 then closed his run with a backside 1080. The seven time X Games medalist scored 78.01 and finished third in his heat. Toutant looks poised to improve on finishing ninth in this discipline at the Sochi games in 2014.

Regina’s Mark McMorris nailed both of his runs in heat two. The 16 time X Games medalist scored 83.70 then 86.83 to finish with the second-best score overall. McMorris won bronze in slopestyle in 2014 despite having a broken rib.

The best score of the day went to Quebec’s Max Parrot, who nailed both of his runs but was especially good his second time on the course. Parrot stuck a smooth landing off the triple sister ramps and finished with a triple flip. That was good enough for 87.36, the highest score of the day. After he finished fifth in Sochi, Parrot is poised for a run to the podium in South Korea.

North Bay’s Tyler Nicholson fell on his first run and had to kill his second run, which he did to the tune of a 79.21. With a run including a backside 1260 and a front 1080, Nicholson finished fifth in heat two and snuck into the final.

Conditions on the course were windy and icy which made for very technical runs. In Sochi, every run came to the last chance for McMorris so tt was good to see him nail the first run and take some pressure off himself.

Watching slopestyle is tough for the uninitiated like me as it is hard to discern the difference in degree of difficulty from one rider to the other. The outlier is McMorris who gets such big air and so much rotation that his runs are simply breathtaking. Even to the untrained eye there is a discernible difference when he lands a jump. As good as Parrot was, Canada’s best shot at gold might be McMorris.

The Canadians will have a good chance to double or even sweep the podium because of their strong qualifying. Not only are one-third of the riders in the final Canadians, but McMorris and Parrot will be the last two riders to drop. Starting towards the end is advantageous because they’ll know what scores they have to beat and they will be able to gauge the speed of the mountain based on how others are running. With disappointing performances by the United States and Great Britain, it’s advantage Canada on the slopes.

Prominent Canadians in action on Day 2:

Here is what’s on tap, events-wise for Canadian athletes (all times Eastern):

• Curling: Feb 10, 7:00 p.m.
Mixed Doubles’ Curling Round Robin – South Korea vs. Canada (7:00 p.m.)

In the last match of the round robin, Canada will take on the hosts South Korea. Canada is on a roll after winning five straight and they’ve already clinched a spot in the semifinals.

To get ready for curling, check out this Big Read on Rachel Homan by Kristina Rutherford.

• Snowboard: Feb 10, 8:00 p.m.
Men’s Slopestyle – Final (8:00 p.m.) Sportsnet One

Four of the 12 men left are Canadian, giving Canada a good shot to bring home at least one medal Saturday night.

• Alpine Skiing: Feb 10, 7:00 p.m.
Men’s Downhill – Final (7:00 p.m.)

Manuel Osborne-Paradis is one of Canada’s strongest medal contenders at the Olympic Games and he will be competing along with fellow Canucks Dustin Cook and Ben Thompsen.

• Figure Skating: Feb 10, 8:00 p.m.
Team Event – Ice dance short, Women’s short program, Pairs free skate (8:00 p.m.)

Canada has taken an early lead at the Olympics in the team competition on the back of dominant performances by Meghan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The duo skates again in the Pairs free Saturday in primetime.

Sportsnet dispatches from Korea:

• Kristina Rutherford details why Patrick Chan feels mentally prepared despite a relatively rough start.

• After reading that, check out this Q and A with Chan I did back in October.

The Interview with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will get you in the mood to watch Olympic figure skating. Rutherford will be covering the skate program throughout the games and she’s quite hilarious so give her a follow on Twitter for updates from Korea.

Sportsnet Tonight
Rutherford provides an Olympics update from Pyeongchang
February 09 2018

• Shi Davidi explained how speed is being emphasized by the Canadian men’s hockey team and today he reports how focused they are on building team chemistry.

• Davidi also filed this column on speedskater Charles Hamelin, who in his final Olympics is looking to pass on his experience to the next generation.

• For more on how the men’s hockey team came together, check out this Big Read from Sportsnet’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Redefining Team Canada.

• And of course, follow Davidi (@shidavidi), who will be covering the men’s tournament for sportsnet.ca. Davidi wrote this oral history on the 1994 men’s Olympic hockey tournament, the last time the event did not feature NHLers:

Proud to be Canadian

Our snowboarders weren’t just killing the performances on the slopes, they were impressing with their fashion too.

Their team jackets were the talk of Twitter as they were designed to look like sweaters. Some confused on lookers didn’t even realize that they were wearing jackets. In typical Canadian fashion the snowboarders are taking pride in their appearance as well as their performance. Hat tip to Burton for the cool threads.

Elsewhere on the web:

• Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell are the first Jamaican women to compete in bobsleigh at the Olympics. Of course, they named their sled Mr. Cool Bolt as an homage to the movie “Cool Runnings” and track star sprinter Usain Bolt. Here is their unlikely story.

• There are six countries competing in the winter Olympics for their first time and Time profiled them all.

• What is at stake for Donald Trump at the Olympic games? The New Yorker aims to find out.

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