PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The words floated out of Max Parrot’s mouth while sitting with his parents one day and landed with the impact he fully expected.
Alain Parrot and Suzanne Noel spun around in their chairs immediately, as tends to happen when your son tells you he’s bailing on college to pursue professional snowboarding and, oh by the way, he’d like to use the money you’d set aside for his education to fund the whole deal.
By stunning them with the proposition out of the blue, it opened the door to months of gentle negotiation. He stressed he wasn’t quitting high school or anything and they used his earnestness as leverage.
“They made a deal with me that I had to finish school with all the best classes, like high math and if I passed, I could have one year off,” Parrot said. “If I did well, then I could keep going.”
And if he didn’t, he was going to college anyway, only it would be on his own dime. No pressure or anything.
There’s a hint of wonder in his voice while the easygoing kid from Bromont, Quebec, Canada, tells the story, still kind of stunned at his own persuasiveness.
Of course, he can afford to laugh now that he’s one of the best slopestyle snowboarders on the planet. Now that he’s in South Korea at his second Olympics. Now that he’ll drop onto the tricky Phoenix Snow Park course on Sunday for the finals with a legitimate shot at gold and with mom and dad in the stands.
Parrot will go last in the 12-man final after topping qualifying on Saturday with a score of 87.36, less than a point ahead of Canadian teammate Mark McMorris. He was in the same spot in Sochi four years ago only to slip to fifth in the finals. Parrot was a 19-year-old kid back then, still a bit wide-eyed about the Olympic stage.