Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant won’t defend the Olympic gold medal he won in the big air event four years ago after falling twice in the qualifier that was won by teammate Max Parrot.
While he got a score of 67.00 on his first jump, the Montreal native fell on his second and third attempts to finish in 26th.
Parrot qualified first with a total of 164.75 points, while teammate Mark McMorris was eighth with 147.25. Darcy Sharpe finished 12th and secured the last spot in the finals with a score of 142.00.
On the women’s side, Laurie Blouin qualified fourth and Jasmine Baird was 10th in the big air qualifiers.
The points from the boarders’ two best jumps are added together for a final tally.
Parrot on Tuesday will be trying to become the first snowboarder to win two gold medals at their first Olympics.
To climb the podium, he believes it will take “at minimum, an 1800 without touching the ground.”
“We saw today that we lose six or seven points as soon as we put our hand down,” Parrot said. “(The judges) want clean jumps and tough manoeuvres.”
McMorris said Toutant severely bruised his heel in practice and had been with the doctor until “90 seconds before his jump.”
“He’s an absolute warrior,” he said.
Toutant quickly unstrapped his board after his first jump and limped, seemingly unable to put any weight on his right leg.
Needing a big score to reach the top 12 on his third jump, he tried a front-side triple cork 1620 Weddle and fell heavily, lying on the ground for several minutes while medical staff checked him. He got up, slowly, and left the course with help.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic Committee indicated that Toutant was “OK.” The 29-year-old did not speak to journalists.
McMorris noted Toutant had started to practise the jumps he tried in the qualifier only days ago.
“I applaud the man,” McMorris said. “He’s built like a brick you-know-what house.”
Parrot interrupted his interviews in the mixed zone to watch Toutant jump. Unable to see the aftermath due to barriers, he estimated that his friend had the wind knocked out of him upon landing.
“Unfortunately, he won’t be with us (in the final) tomorrow,” Parrot said.
Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand, who won gold in the slopestyle, won the women’s qualifier with a score of 176.50. Japanese athletes Kokomo Murase (171.00) and Reira Iwabushi (158.50) were second and third ahead of Blouin, with 156.25.
Baird scored 129.50.
Blouin, of Stoneham, Que., sat sixth after two rounds after completing two relatively safe jumps. In her third, the 25-year-old landed the third highest scoring jump of the day, with a front-side double cork 1080 Weddle.
“For sure in the final, it will take 1080s,” she said.
Blouin finished fourth in the slopestyle event, after winning silver at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018. Blouin was 12th in big air four years ago, but is aiming for a medal this time around.
“My goal is gold, but I’ll be really happy with a podium,” she said.
B.C.’s Brooke Voigt did not make the final after finishing 21st with a score of 96.00.
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