McMorris was out cold for about 45 seconds. When he regained consciousness, his mind was racing. (The Canadian Press)

McMorris weighs in on near-fatal crash

‘I broke everything:’ Canadian snowboarder McMorris says of crash in B.C. backcountry

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris has always had an amazing ability to quickly recover from significant injuries. His comeback from a near-fatal crash in the B.C. backcountry earlier this year is just the latest example.

“I’m feeling really, really good,” he said. “For what happened, I’m doing way better than I thought I’d be doing at this point in time.”

McMorris suffered breaks to his jaw and left arm, a ruptured spleen, a stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung when he crashed off a jump on March 25. He was airlifted from Whistler to Vancouver and underwent emergency surgery to control bleeding and repair his jaw and arm.

“When you get injured usually it’s like, ‘Oh man I’m so bummed, but I can’t wait until the next time I can snowboard,’” McMorris said. “This time I was like, ‘I can’t wait until the next time I can move again or like — live.’

“That (crash) was just gnarly.”

The Regina native called it a “huge freak accident,” adding his snowboard’s edge unexpectedly dug in on the soft snow. He couldn’t stop himself from drifting too far left and into the tree.

“I just whacked it out of mid-air,” McMorris said. “It was not a small tree and (it didn’t have) branches on it. I hit it all on my left side. I did a front-side 360 and as I turned around it was just like right there. And then it was just – boom. I broke everything, like 16 bones or something in one hit. That’s like a car crash.”

The 2014 Olympic slopestyle bronze medallist was with his older brother Craig, also an elite snowboarder, and credits him for taking charge of the situation.

McMorris was out cold for about 45 seconds. When he regained consciousness, his mind was racing.

“I didn’t think I’d ever snowboard again when I was laying there after I hit that tree,” he said. “I was awake and was waiting. As soon as the helicopter got there (90 minutes later) I went to sleep. I remember the whole time waiting, just trying to survive because (I) ruptured (my) spleen and all that and my jaw was just hanging. I was puking. I thought I was going to die — literally.”

After spending 10 days in hospital, McMorris was quite limited physically for about a month. He started the rehabilitation process in the Vancouver area and currently spends at least 2-3 hours per day on a “heavy” gym routine and hydrotherapy work.

McMorris, 23, was on a liquid diet for six weeks – mostly smoothies and soup – and has put back on most of the weight and muscle he lost over the spring.

“It hurts so bad and I hate it every time,” he said of the rehab sessions. “But when I leave I’m so happy. I’m like, ‘OK that’s one step closer to doing what I actually love and what brings me ultimate joy.’ Also it brings me everything I’ve been able to experience in life.

“It all comes from snowboarding and maybe being who I am. But I am who I am because of snowboarding at the end of the day.”

There is no firm timeline in place for a return to the slopes. He’s tentatively looking at the fall but doesn’t need to rush back for Olympic qualifications as he has a provisional spot on the team for the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Games.

McMorris, who sat down for a rare extended interview this week while in town for promotional work with Cheerios, said he has been buoyed by the tremendous support he has received from fans around the world.

“The energy from everybody motivates you to heal,” he said. “Laying in the hospital and getting seven zillion texts a day or emails or Instagram (messages) or whatever. It was like, ‘OK these people believe I can do it, for sure I can do it.’”

McMorris broke a rib just 11 days before the 2014 Games and suffered a broken left femur last year. In both instances, he was back competing earlier than expected.

He earned World Cup Crystal Globes last season in the new Olympic discipline of Big Air and as the overall champion. If his rehab and recovery continue as planned, McMorris will likely be a medal favourite in both Big Air and slopestyle competitions in South Korea.

“I can’t be average,” he said. “I need to be like a super-human again. That’s what I’ve been working towards.”

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Annual Heritage Day celebration highlights Terrace history, culture

Over 30 vendors displayed various vintage and historic items from the city’s past on Feb.17 in the Sportsplex Banquet Room.

Terrace River Kings win playoffs

Defeating Williams Lake Stampeders, the team now heads to the Coy Cup for the fourth year in a row

First annual Valentines Day Memorial Walk to honor missing and murdered Indigenous people held in Terrace

Mayor Carol Leclerc and RCMP Cst. Angela Rabut joined members of the Radek family and walkers on Feb. 14 from the Chill Soda Shop on Highway 16 to the Tempo Gas Station.

Most Highway 16 closures for avalanches in years after multiple dumps of snow

Highway 16 has had four closures between Terrace and Prince Rupert due to 35 mile avalanche area

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

B.C. RCMP officer officially cleared in car wash shooting incident

A report found the Salmon Arm officer fired 14 bullets at the man’s truck

Interest in Canadian Armed Forces remains high

Canada seeks about 5,000 recruits each year for its regular forces of about 68,000

Rules reviewed to keep drug money out of B.C. real estate

Investigator looking at loans as well as casinos, David Eby says

Most Read