Craig McMorris didn’t have much time to think when his brother Mark, a professional snowboarder, crashed into a treed area on a B.C. mountain over the weekend.
Craig remembered all he could focus on was making sure his brother stayed alert and breathing until help arrived.
“All you’re thinking is just kind of pure, ‘Get it done,’” he said in a phone interview from Vancouver Tuesday.
“You’re making sure that he can breathe and you keep talking to him and make sure he’s nodding and doing everything you can to keep him awake.”
The McMorris brothers, from Regina, were snowboarding with four friends in the Whistler backcountry Saturday when the crash happened.
The area is only accessible by snowmobile and helicopter. It was the latter that came for Mark about an hour and 45 minutes after he slammed into the trees.
“It’s almost like getting into a head-on collision in a car,” Craig said about the rate of speed and force at which Mark hit the trees.
Craig said his brother was too far to the left when he went airborne and his body was punished for the jumping error. He’s currently recovering in a Vancouver hospital.
Mark’s extensive injuries included a broken jaw and left arm, pelvic and rib fractures, a ruptured spleen and a collapsed lung. He required two surgeries to repair the damage.
Craig said while waiting in the back country for help to arrive, Mark was focused on what wasn’t injured.
“He’s like, ‘My legs are fine, my knees are fine, I’m good to go.’ But obviously he’s not,” Craig said with a small chuckle.
“It’s just funny the second it happens, that’s what he was thinking of.”
According to Canada Snowboard, the athlete is looking at a recovery timeline of about six months. Despite the injuries, the organization nominated McMorris to the 2018 Olympic team Tuesday.
Craig said his brother’s progress, even in this short time, “has been amazing.”
He’s watched one by one as machines and wires have been removed, which he calls a huge relief.
“He’s doing absolutely wonderful. It’s just mind blowing to see him go from that to now, three days later, just how much progress he’s made. He’s a fighter,” Craig said.
– With files from Jamie Nye.