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Toutant, McMorris, Parrot, Blouin return as Canada's Olympic snowboard team announced

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Canada's sending a stacked snowboard team to the Beijing Olympics, with four medallists from the 2018 Winter Games returning.

Sebastien Toutant, who won gold in men's big air at the Pyeongchang Olympics, headlined the lineup unveiled on Wednesday. Toutant, who also competed at the Sochi Games in 2014, said that qualifying for the Beijing Olympics was more difficult because so many qualifying competitions were cancelled because of COVID-19.

"I feel like just getting my spot on the Canadian team is already like a win for me," said Toutant. "But going to the Games now, I really feel excited because it's my third Games, and this time I've got a gold medal to defend in big air."

Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., and Regina's Mark McMorris, who took silver and bronze respectively in the men's slopestyle competition in 2018, will also return for Canada.

All three will compete in big air and slopestyle, as will Darcy Sharpe of Comox Valley, B.C.

McMorris also won bronze in slopestyle in 2014, with Parrot placing fifth. Big air was not contested at Sochi.

Toutant said he wants to win in both disciplines in Beijing.

"I feel like in slopestyle I came so close in the past, in both Sochi and Pyeongchang," said Toutant, who was ninth in the discipline in 2014 and 11th in 2018. "I feel like that's definitely the discipline that I'm looking forward to really performing in."

Quebec City's Laurie Blouin, who won slopestyle silver at the Pyeongchang Olympics, leads the women's contingent in both slopestyle and big air.

"It's really nice, I'm really happy, to (have qualifying) off my shoulders because I kind of knew, but like, getting the email that it's like, 100 per cent sure, it's a relief," said Blouin. "Now, it's, it's all good."

Blouin will be joined by Jasmine Baird of Georgetown, Ont., and Brooke Voigt of Fort McMurray, Alta. Baird is making her Olympics debut while Voigt competed in big air and slopestyle in 2018.

Like Toutant, Blouin said that qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Olympics was more difficult than four years earlier. She said it wasn't that the competitions were harder, but the logistics of travelling on the World Cup circuit were a challenge.

"I think we were lucky to still be able to travel, but it was kind of more sketchy if we got stuck in another country," said Blouin. "We didn't have a free pass because we're athletes, no exemptions, but we didn't have any choice but to travel."

Derek Livingston of Aurora, Ont., Elizabeth Hosking of Longueuil, Que., and Calgary's Brooke D’Hondt will represent Canada in the halfpipe.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press