From hospital bed to podium: Snowboarder wins bronze months after B.C. crash
Published Monday, February 12, 2018 9:48AM PST
Last Updated Monday, February 12, 2018 9:56AM PST
Less than a year after he nearly lost his life in a snowboarding accident, Mark McMorris is once again basking in Olympic glory.
The 24-year-old flipped and spun his way to a bronze medal in the slopestyle event in Pyeongchang over the weekend, marking an incredible comeback that has inspired Canadians across the country.
"It hasn't been an easy road," McMorris told CTV News. "I'm feeling really honoured to be on the podium again."
Just 11 months ago, in March 2017, McMorris crashed into a tree while snowboarding in the backcountry in Whistler, B.C. The accident left him with a fractured jaw, arm and pelvis, broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a collapsed lung.
Despite a successful snowboarding career that includes another bronze-winning slopestyle performance in Sochi, some doubted the Olympian from Regina, Sask. could bounce back.
But bounce back he has – and his journey from a Vancouver hospital bed to the Pyeongchange podium is one of the most inspirational stories to emerge so far in the 2018 Games.
McMorris's long recovery meant he was only able to return to the slopes in August, and even then his time on the hill was somewhat limited.
"Being in that recovery mode, he gets a little less time on snow than some of the other riders," said Eric Escaravage of Canada Snowboard. "To come out and win an Olympic medal when less than a year ago you're lying in a hospital bed – it's astounding."
And beyond recovering from his broken bones, McMorris said returning to the sport he loves was daunting – as it would be for anyone who so recently stared death in the face.
"As you physically heal, you mentally heal but stuff's a little scarier than it used to be for me," he said.
In the end, he credits the love and support he's received from his fellow Canadians for helping him back to the podium.
"Canada definitely had my back 100 per cent, and I felt that," he said. "It was definitely motivating and it gave me a little extra boost and energy to do my very best, and it feels really good when you end up doing well."
McMorris finished third behind by gold medal winner Redmond Gerard, a 17-year-old from Team USA, and Canada's Max Parrot.
After a few days of rest and celebration, McMorris will be back practising for his next event, the men's Big Air competition that’s scheduled to begin on Feb. 21.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith
Thank You Life❤️ pic.twitter.com/TdHcIdWzqJ— Mark McMorris (@markmcmorris) February 12, 2018