Mark McMorris nearly died last year. Now he’s an Olympic bronze medallist


PYEONGCHANG — Mark McMorris admits that he is just lucky to still be able to snowboard. Lucky to be alive, really.

And so perhaps it is not surprising that on a windy, treacherous day at Phoenix Snow Park, the 24-year-old Canadian, less than a year removed from almost dying in a backcountry accident, tried the most fearless run of anyone.

Pyeongchang 2018 logo.

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With American teenager Red Gerard having just performed a clean final run to edge past him into gold-medal position in snowboard slopestyle, McMorris had the chance to scale down the difficulty of his final attempt. Instead, he went for it. He hit a triple-flip on his second-last jump of the run and on the final jump, McMorris soared into a backside triple 1620 — three flips and four-and-half rotations.

He didn’t quite make it all the way around, falling forward on the landing area. The gold medal was out of reach. Teammate Max Parrot then did what McMorris didn’t, taking one triple out of his run and performing it cleanly. Parrot’s score of 86.00 was good enough for silver, Gerard’s 87.16 stood up for gold. McMorris settled for bronze at 85.20. They were the first two medals for Canada at Pyeongchang 2018.

McMorris, a Regina native who lives now in Whistler, B.C., said he thought about playing it safe with his last run, but after talking to his coaches decided against it.

“It’s worse when you play it safe and it doesn’t work out,” he said, and then corrected himself: “It did work out. I probably shouldn’t even be here, so I’m pretty stoked.”

McMorris conceded that any kind of medal was some kind of victory for him on Sunday, considering where he has been the past few years. He broke his femur in competition a little over two years ago and then crashed into a tree in the mountains near his home last March. That accident, McMorris said with no hint of irony on Sunday, left him “on a deathbed.”

“It is really cool that I can snowboard again,” he said. “I broke my femur and had to take six or seven months off, and then I broke it all and had to take seven months off again.”

McMorris said all that recovery time takes a toll. Doubts grow, and he saw other riders improving their skills and their tricks while he was lying on a hospital bed.

Max Parrot of Canada celebrates his silver medal in the men’s snowboard slopestyle final at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

“I’m trying not to think too much about the past today. A lot of times I need to pinch myself,” he said. “There have been some low times, but these high times make it worthwhile.”

The weather forced all the riders into adjusting their strategies on Sunday. Gusting winds made big jumps unpredictable — sometimes it would lead to longer air time and sometimes it would push them …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News

      

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