The Untold Truth Of Olympic Gold Medalist Max Parrot

Born to a former alpine skier, Max Parrot's love for snow was ingrained into him from a young age. He was raised in Bromont, Quebec, and spent much of his childhood skiing with his family. According to Team Canada, at the age of 10 (Today reports he was 9), he made the switch to snowboarding. Per Canada Snowboard, this was all thanks to a friend, who had received a snowboard for Christmas. Thus began a love affair that endures till this day. Despite Parrot's early enthusiasm for the sport, his parents were "reluctant" as they believed snowboarding was more dangerous than skiing.

According to the X Games, when he asked for his own snowboard, his parents turned him down. They insisted he would have to earn his own money to pay for it himself. Parrot was up for the challenge and "mowed lawns for a year" before saving up the $1,000 he needed. At 15, he told his parents he didn't plan on going to college to pursue a professional snowboarding career. They asked him if he was "crazy," saying snowboarders "don't make any money," Parrot told X Games.

This did not deter him, though, and his parents eventually gave in. Team Canada reported that they said they'd fund his career and allow him to travel for competitions if he agreed to finish high school. Moreover, If snowboarding didn't work out, he'd return to school and get a college degree. It's safe to say Parrot never had to go back to school. 

Max Parrot's success story

Team Canada writes that Parrot began his professional snowboarding career at the age of 16 at the St. Sauveur Shakedown. Once he graduated high school in 2012, things "took off" (via the X Games). Parrot made his X Games debut in 2013 and in 2014, where he was named champion of the World Snowboard Tour. He was also granted a spot on the Canadian National Team. At the 2014 X Games in Aspen, Parrot won the slopestyle and big air competitions, becoming the second man in X Games history to do so. 

According to the X Games, he returned to compete in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively. Parrot has referred to himself as "determined" and "motivated." This is perhaps an understatement as Canada Snowboard explains that he has continued to make history, including being the first to execute a switch quadruple jump. In 2018, Parrot made it to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Canadian star received a silver medal (per the International Olympic Committee). Shortly after, Parrot received life-shattering news that had him off the snow for several months.

Max Parrot's cancer diagnosis

On December 21, 2018, Parrot was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma (via Canada Snowboard). According to Today, he had discovered a lump on the back of his neck and received the news it was cancer soon after. As Parrot explains it, he had to "stop everything to fight." And that he did. Parrot temporarily put away his snowboard to endure months of grueling chemotherapy. He called it "hell" but pushed on. Per the IOC, as Parrot was diagnosed towards the end of the year, he effectively missed out on the 2019 snowboarding season. Instead, he decided to film his cancer journey.

Parrot told People he was filmed "24/7" for eight months. For six of those, he underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy. He referred to it as the "toughest months of my entire life." People reports that in July of 2019, Parrot announced that he was cancer-free. Almost immediately, he went back to training (per Team Canada).

Two months later, Parrot returned to the X Games in Norway, where he won a "big air gold medal." At the 2020 X Games, he once again won gold. In 2021, he was unable to compete at the Aspen X Games due to a positive COVID test. Nonetheless, Parrot received a Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award for his triumphant snowboarding comeback after cancer (via the International Ski Federation).

Max Parrot goes gold

Nearly three years after beating cancer, Parrot won big at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 7 (via CNN). According to the BBC, he won gold and called it the "best run of his life" as he earned a 90.6 score. Parrot also explained how much his life had changed in the four years since Pyeongchang. He stated that it was "hard to describe" the transition from becoming an Olympian to a cancer patient when he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

Today reports that his "victory run" included snowboarding through an ice replica of the Great Wall of China. In addition, he did "three triple corked jumps," with one jump having "1440 degree spins." A pretty amazing feat, as People reported that cancer had seriously affected him physically. As Parrot put it, he had no "cardio," "energy" or "muscles." 

Which is probably why he said that being at the Olympics as a gold medal winner felt "amazing." One of Parrot's teammates, Mark McMorris, also chimed in and said it was "pretty sick to see him do so well." However, not everyone agreed with Parrot's win.

Max Parrot's controversial win

According to the BBC, there was reportedly an error made by the judges when they scored Parrot's second run, which earned him gold. CNN reports that during one of his jumps, he "appeared" to have grabbed his knee instead of his board. This would have made Parrot lose at least "two or three points." It seems, however, that the judges failed to view this scene. Parrot's final score was 9.35. The knee grab could have left with a 6 or 6.5 score. In other words, Parrot would not have won gold. The medal would have gone to 17-year-old Su Yiming from China, who received a silver medal due to Parrot's win.

BBC commentator Ed Leigh said one of the judges was "distraught" over the revelation they might have made a mistake. As Leigh explains, he doesn't think the judges replayed the run so they could get the score out as soon as possible. As the South China Morning Post points out, there is little to be done in this case. Siming had 15 minutes to write an appeal but failed to do so. Despite this, the controversy has continued. Yahoo New Zealand writes that there has been a slew of social media fans who believe Siming was "robbed" of a gold medal. Parrot has yet to comment on the incident.

Max Parrot's personal life

Per Team Canada, Parrot still lives in his hometown of Bromont, Quebec. He has said that since he travels so much for snowboarding, he considers going home as his favorite vacation spot. Off the snow, Parrot likes other sports including mountain biking, wakeboarding, wake surfing, golf, and tennis. He frequently posts on Instagram, where he updates fans and followers about his training and shares healthy recipes. According to the IOC, the 27-year-old also likes to play the guitar and credits the pandemic for allowing him to "spend time" with himself for a change.

In 2018, Heavy reported that he was dating Alysson Gendron-Gallant. However, he revealed in 2022 that he was engaged to girlfriend Kayla Thibault, whom he met "this past year" (via IOC). In January 2022, Parrot announced that his cancer documentary "Max Life as A Gold Medal" had been released and could be viewed online. Per the film's website, viewers have to pay a donation to watch the documentary. Half of the income will be going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Overall, Parrot says that cancer changed his life for the better as he is now more "grateful" for everything, including being alive.