Canadian Olympic snowboarder Mark McMorris suffered a serious backcountry accident on March 25, 2017. McMorris has won 13 X-Games medals, a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics, and much more. McMorris was filming in the backcountry near Whistler, B.C. when the crash happened. One of the people present was his brother and CBC commentator, Craig McMorris. Mark’s snowboard edge unexpectedly dug into soft snow doing a 360, causing him to crash into a tree. Both brothers described this crash as a “huge freak accident.” Craig said that Mark would have landed the jump “99 percent of the time.” This crash resulted in a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures, and a collapsed left lung. After the impact, Mark was fully conscious while he waited 90 minutes for the rescue team to arrive.
When the rescue team arrived, he was airlifted to Whistler, and then to the Vancouver General Hospital. There, he underwent two surgeries in order to control the bleeding and to repair his jaw and arm fractures. Both operations were successful.
Despite being injured, McMorris was one of the two athletes tentatively named to Canada’s Olympic snowboard team. Both athletes will have to prove that they are healthy and able to compete at a decent level in one event this coming season. Patrick Jarvis, Canada Snowboard’s exclusive director, told CBC in an interview that Mark would, “Have to prove a return-to-competition readiness to ensure that he’s comfortable with riding again, that he’s back to the level of prowess that he’s used to.”
After the accident, Mark spent 10 days in the Vancouver General Hospital. Once he got out, he was very limited for about a month. He then started rehab in Vancouver and was spending 2 to 3 hours per day on an intensive gym routine and hydrotherapy. He was on a liquid diet for six weeks. “I almost died and I’m trying to get better,” tweeted Mark regarding the accident. After the accident, Mark said that he could not wait until the next time that he would be able to move again.
By July, Mark was feeling “really, really good.” He was doing way better than he thought he would be by that point. Even though there was not yet a specific date for Mark’s return to the slopes, he was looking to return to his board by the fall of 2017. Mark mentioned that the energy and love he received from all his fans from around the world is what motivated him to heal.
In August, all Mark’s injuries were clear. His arm took the longest time to heal but other than that he was 100 percent better, according to his brother Craig McMorris. He was described as being healthy and happy. Even though Mark had not hit any big jumps or ridden to the level that he would need to in order to participate in the Olympics, it seemed as though Mark would be perfectly fine to compete in South Korea.
In early September Mark flew down to Australia in order to get back on his snowboard and start his journey to the Olympic podium. All this only 5 months after his crash in Whistler B.C.
As to what is happening now, Mark is still trying to get better in order to fully earn his spot on the Canadian team. Mark is a gold medal favorite for Canada in the 2018 Olympics, in both slopestyle and the newly added event, big air. We have to wait and see what happens with Mark’s progression between now and then. However, with the long way he has come in such a short period of time, there is very little doubt that Mark will be ready to compete come February.