In Maxence Parrot's mind, there's no better place to wrap up the winter than in Whistler for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF).
"I think Whistler has the best park in North America," Parrot said Monday, April 7, upon arriving in town for the WSSF's Monster Energy Shred Show.
"For real — I'm not just saying that because it's an interview (with Whistler media) — it's true. It's a really good park this year.
"Shred Show for me is the last contest of the year for about six months. It's fun to end this in Whistler and the vibe is so cool. It's really good to be here."
But perhaps another reason why the Canadian Olympic snowboarder is fond of the resort is because he's already enjoyed success here over the past year.
Parrot took top spot in the Showcase Showdown slopestyle in March, and he'll also head into the Shred Show's big air contest on Saturday, April 12, as the defending champion after winning in 2013.
From those two victories combined, Parrot won $23,000.
And after the season he's had, the 19-year-old will be one of the favourites to top the podium and collect some more cash in both Saturday's big air and the Shred Show's slopestyle on Sunday, April 13, in Blackcomb's Nintendo Terrain Park.
"For sure, that would be fun," Parrot said of finishing off his season with some strong results. "Last year, I won the big air and this year I'll try to win both if I can."
Parrot fell short of the medals in Sochi in February while competing in the Olympic debut of slopestyle, finishing fifth, but there haven't been many podiums he hasn't reached this season. His incredible year has included gold medals in both big air and slopestyle at the Winter X Games.
The Shred Show is a 5-star event on the World Snowboard Tour calendar, which has helped to draw out some of the heavy hitters for the weekend's contests. Joining Parrot among the favourites will be fellow Canadian Olympians Sebastien Toutant and Charles Reid, defending Shred Show slopestyle champ Emil Ulsletten, Gjermund Braaten and several others.
Last year, Parrot threw a triple-cork 1260 to win the big air. It was one of the first triples he'd landed in competition at that point, and one of few attempted that night in front of the thousands gathered to watch the event from Skier's Plaza. But with the way snowboarding continues to progress in leaps and bounds, Parrot knows he'll likely have to step up his game a bit this year to repeat as champ.
"Last year, that was I think the only triple in my pocket. Now, I've got a couple," said Parrot, who landed a backside triple 1620 en route to his X Games gold in January. "I think I'm still a step ahead of a couple riders here."
Snowboard contests at the top level have reached the point where a triple is almost a prerequisite to land on the podium. Parrot said he thinks slopestyle's inclusion in Sochi this year has had a lot to do with that.
"I think it's all really because of the Olympics that the level of snowboarding (has progressed) so much in the past two years, since it was announced the Olympics would have slopestyle," he said. "Now, it's just crazy.
"I'm really happy because I started competing three years ago when I was 16 and I kind of had to reach (the top) level of snowboarding. Now, I've reached it, and I'm happy to be one of the guys who's pushing the limits of the sport."
For guys like Parrot, Reid and Toutant, the past couple of seasons have been a little bit different than what they're used to thanks to the arrival of the Olympics. In addition to all the hype, pressure and attention that comes along with being an Olympian, there was also a qualifying process that shook up their schedules a bit compared to past winters.
But with the Games now over with, Reid said it's nice for the riders to get back to events that feel a little more familiar.
"It was a long year-and-a-half, chasing the FIS contests and the World Cup... so it's actually really nice to get back to the pro tour," said Reid, who reached the semifinals in Sochi and placed 14th.
"Shred Show is always a fun contest, and I think the vibe is a bit different. It's less stressful."
Reid hasn't been doing much riding over the past month and is eager to get back at it in Whistler this weekend. The Mont Tremblant, Que., native, who will be celebrating his 24th birthday during the big air on Saturday night, broke his tailbone a couple weeks after the Olympics and is just now getting back on his board.
"I'm so excited to get back and it's going to be a fun spring," said Reid, who spends much of his spring season out west.
"The Blackcomb park in the springtime is always so much fun, and the big air at the bottom has a good vibe and a good crowd. It's a good party."
Check out www.wssf.com for full details of this year's Shred Show.
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