In March 2017, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris crashed into a tree during a jump in backcountry snowboarding in Whistler, British Columbia. He was airlifted from Whistler to Vancouver General Hospital and was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“He hit a jump and just went a little too far to the left and it was really unfortunate as he ran into some trees. It was a super freak accident. Mark never makes mistakes, but [in this case] he made just a tiny mistake and went too far to the left … it was awful,” Mark’s brother, Craig McMorris, told CBC Sports.
He broke his jaw, left arm, fractured his pelvic bone, and a injured few ribs. Additionally, he ruptured his spleen and one of his lungs collapsed. The then-23-year-old “underwent two surgeries to control bleeding and to repair the jaw and arm fractures,” according to CBC Sports.
“While both the [jaw and arm] fractures were complicated injuries, the surgeries went very well and both fractures are now stabilized to heal in excellent position. It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery,” Canadian team doctor Rodney French said in a statement after McMorris’ surgeries.
McMorris has come a long way since that time. He is currently competing in the 2018 Winter Games, hoping to win another medal for Team Canada. Last week, McMorris took home the bronze medal in men’s snowboard slopestyle.
In the midst of his celebrations, McMorris was asked about his crash from 11 months ago.
“I was pretty sure I was going to die,” he told the press in PyeongChang, South Korea. “I’m glad I pulled through that last injury to be here because this is pretty special,” he added.
On Tuesday, February 20, McMorris will complete his qualifying runs in the Snowboard Big Air competition. If he can score high enough to be in the top 12, he will have a chance to go for another medal — maybe even a gold.
According to the New York Times, McMorris is favored to win the Big Air competition. Assuming that he makes it through tonight’s qualifying round, his big trick could be enough to get him on the podium next week.
“There’s a trick that even someone new to the sport can probably guess is a doozy: the backside triple cork 1440. He does four full rotations (1440) and basically turns upside down three times (triple),” reports the New York Times.
The men’s Snowboard Big Air finals will take place on Friday, February 23.
You can watch McMorris talk about his bronze medal win in the video below.