NEWS
02/05/2018 06:25 EST | Updated 02/06/2018 01:02 EST

OLYMPIC PREVIEW:Four years later, snowboarder Max Parrot says he's grown up

MONTREAL — What a difference four years has made to snowboarder Max Parrot.

In 2014, the Bromont, Que., native was stressed out when learned he had been selected to the Canadian snowboarding team only two weeks before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

He was 19 at the time, and the little-known Parrot wasn't sure what to expect from his first Olympic slopestyle experience, although that didn't stop him from an impressive fifth-place finish.

This time it will be different.

Not only has he been confirmed as part of Canada's team since March, but the 23-year-old will go into the Pyeongchang Winter Games as one of the favourites. A double-favourite actually, because along with slopestyle he will compete in the big air event, which will make its Olympic debut.

Parrot will go in with confidence, having reached the top three in 10 of 15 events this season and having defended his big air title at the X Games.

But what has changed most in the last four years is having a more open mind to taking advice from his entourage.

"Four years ago I was very stubborn," he said. "I wouldn't let anyone help me."

He has matured since then, and now has no problem working with a team.

"I figured out that I can't do everything myself," he said. "It's too much to manage.

"Now I have a team around me who help me and who I learn from. I'm getting better at it day to day. I've been working with a sports psychologist for two years. That helps me control my moods. It helps when you're competing to be able to manage that well."

From the beginning, the athlete they call the "The Kid" has been known for pushing the limits of his sport with ever-more daring manoeuvres. He was the first in competition to complete moves called the back triple cork, the double backside rodeo 1440 and the switch quadruple underflip.

"I've reached a level where I'm the one who is pushing the limits," he said. "I invent manoeuvres and it's an amazing feeling when you land the jump.

"I get so many messages from fans telling me they were inspired by a certain jump. It gives me goosebumps and it makes me want to do even more, to push the limits of the sport even farther."

In 2014, he became only the second male snowboarder to win slopestyle and big air events at the same X Games, after Canadian teammate Mark McMorris of Regina.

It may be in the blood because his father Alain Parrot was a competitive alpine skier and a Canadian champion water skier.

"I'm a motivated guy," he said. "If I start something I want to finish it.

"I love overcoming challenges."

And his ambitions for Pyeongchang are high. He feels that medals are there for the taking in slopestyle and big air.

 "My main goal is to perform at my best," he said. "I used to focus on gold medals, but there are steps to climb on the way to a gold medal.

"The first is to perform well. If I do that, the medal should come. To focus on my performance and execute my run as I planned them is my goal."