Olympic snowboarder Mark McMorris is set to compete in Tuesday night’s Big Air competition in PyeongChang, South Korea. As the favorite to win gold, there is a lot riding on his shoulders.
Representing Team Canada, McMorris is expected to attempt a backside triple cork 1440. The trick involves four full rotations with three upside down turns. If McMorris is able to complete the trick and stick the landing, it will be hard for any of the other athletes to beat his score.
So, who will be cheering McMorris on during his Big Air run? Aside from his parents, McMorris has been getting some support from his girlfriend, Coco Ho. She’s a pro-surfer from Hawaii and has been cheering her boyfriend on all week.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s Been Dating McMorris Since 2013 & Calls Him ‘Sparky’
Ho, 26, has been dating McMorris since September 2013. The two met at the X Games and ended up liking each other. They kept in touch after the event, chatting on Facebook for about six months, she told Surfer.
So, just how serious are they? Well, McMorris has already met Ho’s parents, and her brother, Mason. Their parents have also already met each other.
“Mark actually met Mason and my dad right after Mason had lost in an early round of the US Open, and both of them were upset, but they made nice and were super sweet to Mark. My dad met Mark’s parents right before the Olympics when he broke his rib and there was so much shock and worry in the family, but my dad and Mark’s parents hit it off right away because they have so much in common. Now my dad loves Mark. He actually hogs all Mark’s time when we’re all together [laughs]. My dad trusts me and my instincts and knows I don’t take relationships and big decisions lightly.”
Mason told Surfer that he thinks McMorris is “super cool.”
Many people seemed to think that Ho and McMorris had gone their separate ways, but a couple of weeks ago, Ho posted the picture above on her Instagram page, reaffirming that the two are still together.
Ho has a nickname for McMorris and uses it whenever she posts about him on social media. She calls him “Sparky” and uses the lightning bolt emoji for additional effect.
Ho didn’t travel to South Korea to be with McMorris as he competes in the 2018 Winter Games, but she has been watching from home — and posting to social media about it.
“Putting down a show at the big show,” she tweeted on February 10. Her post included a picture of McMorris on television.
In January, she shared a couple of pictures of her time at the X Games. She and a group of friends were part of McMorris’ very own “cheer squad.”
Ho has been a huge support system for McMorris over the years. Even when the two first started dating, she would post about him on social media.
“I don’t understand anything that just happened.. What I do know is that you’re the best and GOLD in life,” Ho captioned an Instagram photo in 2014.
The video below shows Ho and McMorris having some fun together.
Ho previously dated John Florence, a pro-surfer who was recently named the 2017 World Surf League Men’s Champion.
2. She’s a Professional Surfer & Got Her Start When She Was 7
When she was just 7 years old, Ho got on a surfboard. A year later, she joined Volcom coach Dave Riddle, becoming the first female surfer on his Hawaiian team, according to an interview that Ho did with Etnies. Riddle told the outlet that Ho has been working to find her place in the male-dominated sport and he believes that she is undoubtedly one to watch.
“It’s so crowded out there, and she finds these little windows of opportunity. There are 40 guys out there, and Coco gets a great one,” Riddle said.
Ho is very focused and determined. According to Etnies, she works to ensure that the things that she can control are controlled. She does this by “preparing mentally, studying her opponents, and watching the waves.”
This year marks her 10th year on tour. She has traveled all over the world — from Brazil to Japan — competing in her sport of choice.
Over the years, she has earned the nickname, the “Flying Hawaiian.”
Below are her surf results, according to her website.
2014: Supergirl Pro WQS 6-star – 3rd Place
2014: Los Cabos Open of Surf – WQS 6-star – 1st Place
2013 ASP Heat of the Year
2013 TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival WCT– 2nd Place
2012 Billabong Rio Pro WCT – 2nd Place
2011 World Qualifying Champion
2011 ASP Pro Junior Champion
2011 Women’s Legendary Pacific Coast Pro, (Newcastle, Australia) WQS 6 Star – Champion
2010 Maresia Girls International, (Brazil) WQS 6 Star -1st place
2010 Bahia Brazil, WQS 4 Star Champion
2010 Supergirl Pro Junior 1st place
2010 O’Neill Women’s World Cup (Sunset Beach, Hawaii) – 2nd place
2009 ASP Rookie of the Year
2009 Ripcurl Search Portugal Champion
2009 Roxy Pro Gold Coast (Australia) WCT – 3rd place
2009 Margaret River Pro (Western Australia) WQS 5-star – 2nd place
2009 Estoril Billabong Girls Pro (Portugal) WQS 6-star – 2nd place
2008 US Open Junior Pro Champion
2008 US Open of Surfing WQS 6-star – 2nd place (took place in youngest competitor final heat in history)
2008 Sunset Junior Pro – 2nd place
2008 Rio International Brasil WQS 4-star – 3rd place
2007 Triple Crown Rookie of the Year
2007 VQS Championship – 1st place
2007 Open Women NSSA Nationals – 2nd place
3. She’s From Hawaii & Her Family Is Well-Known in the Surfing World
It’s safe to say that surfing runs in Ho’s blood. Her dad, Michael Ho, won the Pipeline Masters back in 1982, and went on to win the World Cup in 1983, 1984, and 1985.
Ho’s brother, Mason, is also a well-known surfer.
In 1993, Coco Ho’s uncle Derek became the first Hawaiian World Champion.
“My uncle Derek was the first male Hawaiian world champ. My dad was a two-time Triple Crown [winner] — that’s like our world title here in Hawaii. My brother has been competing for as long as I have. Having everyone in surfing was nothing but support — and good advice,” she told ESPN in 2014.
That same year, Ho won the 6-Star Los Cabos Open Of Surf.
4. She Was in ESPN’s Body Issue in 2014
In 2014, Ho joined a fairly exclusive list of athletes who posed nude for ESPN’s Body Issue. During her interview with the magazine, she talked about her body and how social media has affected the way that athletes — especially surfers — look at themselves.
“When I was younger, everyone would always ask if I was a gymnast because of my stature. And I used to think that the word ‘muscular’ was not a good thing for a girl. But as I grew into my own and became an athlete, I became more and more appreciative of them. They help me be as powerful as I am in competition. It’s beautiful to be strong,” she told ESPN.
“Especially in surfing, because we’re in bikinis all day, we’re really critiqued. After a competition, social media will just be talking about who looked better in a bikini instead of who surfed better. It’s not even about the results anymore, so much is body. And that’s really frustrating at times,” she added.
As for how her boyfriend felt about her getting naked for the outlet, he was nothing but supportive.
“Mark is the most supportive, career savvy, honest boyfriend ever! He wants whatever is best for me and would be very honest if he thinks something isn’t. I take his words to heart and trust his decisions. He was very supportive of the shoot. He was actually there with me the entire shoot, my safety net,” she told Cooler Lifestyle.
Overall, Ho thought the shoot was “weird” — and she ended up with a sunburn.
5. She Has Her Own Shoe Line With Etnies, Is a Brand Ambassador for Volcom & Has Been in 2 Movies
Ho is well on her way to building a life for herself. Not only has she had some incredible wave runs, but she also has deals with a couple of companies that earn her some cash.
She struck a deal with Etnies and has her name on the Cyprus SC Womens Sneaker.
“The etnies Cyprus SC was built as an incredibly comfortable shoe to rest your feet in Supreme Comfort between sessions. Taking design inspiration from the Scout and heritage detailing from the original Cyprus, this lightweight shoe has an STI EVOLUTION® FOAM outsole with a thin layer of co-molded rubber on the bottom to enhance traction. With a lycra spandex inner bootie offering a superior fit and a molded TPU heel clip for support, the Cyprus is sure to provide a secure and stable fit,” reads the sneaker’s description.
Additionally, Ho posts various pictures of herself in Volcom swimsuits. She is listed as a brand ambassador on the Volcom website.