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Parrot, Ulsletten win big at Shred Show

Over $50,000 in prize money awarded at snowboard competitions

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Maxence Parrot recently bought an expensive car and, thanks to $15,000 in prize money for winning The Shred Show presented by Monster Energy big air competition on Saturday night, April 20, that car will have some nicer rims and accessories.

Not that the 18-year-old national team member will have a lot of time to drive it this summer.

"I've got a bunch of training ahead," he said. "It's super park in two weeks, and it's non-stop in the summer. I'm going to New Zealand, Australia... I'm never home and I'm always on my board, doing what I love."

At the end of the line is a chance for Parrot to represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, where the sport of snowboard slopestyle will make its Olympic debut. The national team can qualify up to four men to compete, and with names like World Snowboard Tour champion Mark McMorris and Euro X Games winner Seb Toutant on the list, it's going to be a strong team.

Parrot, who is currently ranked sixth in the world in slopestyle, is easily a favourite to make the team but there are still a lot of events between now and January 2014 and Parrot isn't taking any chances.

"I'm going to try and train as much as possible, the Olympics are kind of a dream for me. I don't want to mess it up, and I'm going to put all of my efforts into it."

Judging by Parrot's performance in the big air, he's ready.

With soft conditions heading into the jump and some light rain falling in the finals, Parrot was the only competitor that succeeded in landing a triple corked trick, getting upside down three times while landing his signature trick — a backside triple corked 1440 with a mute grab thrown in that he had just enough time to land.

"I kind of put it in my head last night at the practice," said Parrot.

"I was trying a couple of different tricks and I knew I had the air time to do it. So I was like 'all right, let's go all in' and I stomped it the first try and that was it. I'm really stoked."

But while Parrot's trick — and score of 96.5 — was the highlight of the night, all of the riders brought their "A-Game" to Whistler, with athletes landing switch 1260 double corked tricks on their very first runs to set the bar high for the rest of the evening.

"Everyone was riding really great in the qualis (qualification round) and it was insane — everyone was doing 12s and switch 12s, and riding at a really high level, and I was expecting that," said Parrot.

Second place went to Norway's Kim Rune Hansen with a 93.25, while American Justin Morgan was third with a 90.25.

Both riders have triples in their trick bags as well, but didn't attempt any in the finals.

For Morgan, just to be in the competition was a big deal.

"For me, I'm coming off an injury so it's just good for me to get out there and land tricks I haven't done in a while," he said. "It's the end of the season and the jump is perfect, so it was a great time for me to get out and really progress myself as a rider. I would have been glad to be out here no matter what happened."

Morgan also enjoyed being in Whistler to wrap up his season.

"It's always one of my favourite events of the year," he said. "I love it here. The jumps are always so perfect, and I look forward to it all year."

There was some Whistler content in the final this year with Matts Kulisek finishing fifth overall and Darcy Sharpe, who trains with the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club, placing eighth.

Some 30 sathletes were in the qualifier, with only 10 advancing to the finals.

Ulsletten takes slopestyle victory

With soft conditions for the Shred Show slopestyle on Friday, momentum was everything — one small mistake up top could steal a riders' speed and force them to downgrade tricks on the rest of the course. Luckily almost every rider struggled in the finals on at least one of the park features.

For Norwegian rider Emil Ulsletten, the mistake was made up top on the rail feature, leaving him heading into the next jump switch and forcing him to change plans on the fly.

"(The run) was something I hadn't planned to do at all, I did 180 (degree spin) less than I should have on the rail feature, so that mixed up my routine a bit on the last two runs," he said.

"Between the rail feature and second jump I had no idea what to do anymore and just pulled something out. Lucky for me it was good enough. I knew I did well but didn't think it was good enough to win."

Despite the improvisation, Ulsletten's second run was good enough to pull into the lead ahead of American Eric Willett, who led in the qualifier and was leading the finals until the final run. In the end, Ulsletten scored an 84.5, while Willett finished with an 83.33. Tyler Nicholson, an unheralded rider from Ontario, picked up third place with a 78.33.

Willett was saving up a few tricks for his last run, but not everything went according to plan.

"I was pretty stoked on what I did," he said. "I knew going into that last run that I could only improve... but as soon as I knuckled (hit the top of the transition) on my second jump I knew that was pretty much it. I was pushing for first, but I'm stoked I got second."

Like Parrot, Willett is a member of the U.S. team and already has a full summer of training ahead of him to prepare for the 2014 Winter Games.

"I just got my schedule for the summer, and yeah, it's pretty busy," said Willett. "My goal is to stay on my snowboard as much as possible so I can go into next season still feeling comfortable instead of trying to get all those pre-season bumps out of the way."

For Nicholson, the event was a milestone in his young career.

"I'm so stoked to be on a podium with Eric Willett, I've looked up to that dude since I was the littlest guy in the park," he said. "From the first time I saw him in competition I wanted to be on a podium with him. I just didn't think it would be today."

Nicholson's goal is to one day make the national team, and he said a podium at Shred Show is a big stepping stone.

"That would be rad," he said. "To be up there with guys like Mark (McMorris) and Seb (Toutant) would be sick, but I'm going to keep working on it. This course was definitely one of the biggest, best slopestyle courses I've ever done, so I'm pretty happy with my result."

The only local rider to make the final was Jon Versteeg, who placed ninth overall.

Versteed takes Boarderstyle

While The Shred Show slopestyle and big air were five-star World Snowboard Tour events with $25,000 prize purses, the snowboard component of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival also included the third annual Boarderstyle competition, a snowboardcross event with a few slopestyle additions including rails and a big final air that riders had to spin over to win.

The conditions were horrible with thick fog and the occasional blizzard intruding, but Jon Versteeg persevered to take first place overall, followed by Kevin Sansalone, Myrohsa Daley and Martin Jaureguialzo.

Athletes got to see the judging component in action with Travis Williams crossing the finish line first his semi-final heat, but not advancing to the finals after Sansalone and Daley pulled ahead with better tricks on the final air.

There were no cash prizes available, but the Monster Crown was up for grabs, as well as other prizes.

A video is available on YouTube.com.

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