Hanging out on a boat in beautiful Kelowna, B.C., with friends, Mark McMorris got a phone call Wednesday night. That’s how the Olympic snowboarder found out he won a prestigious ESPY award.
It was just four months before that the Regina-born athlete took a fall while trying to make a jump in the British Columbia backwoods, and seriously hurt himself.
He broke 16 bones, ruptured his spleen, collapsed a lung and bruised his heart.
“I didn’t know you could bruise your heart, only thought you could break your heart,” McMorris said then laughed, while speaking on 980 CJME’s The Green Zone on Thursday.
McMorris is feeling alright now – he spoke to the show while on a golf course. Though he said his shattered humerus is taking some time.
He’s counting down until he can get back on a snowboard again.
“People say when you experience a trauma, coming back from it life’s just better because, you know, like, you got so close to death,” said McMorris.
He’s expecting to be able to start working again in August or early September.
McMorris was added to Canada’s Olympic snowboarding team for the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, just a few days after his accident, but only provisionally. His place will be contingent on being able to get back into shape.
“I feel so blessed and lucky to have a second shot – like, no permanent damage, I don’t have any brain damage, I broke my jaw,” said McMorris. “It doesn’t really make any sense, I obviously hit my head really hard. I obviously just feel really lucky to get another shot.”
But why get back on the board? After experiencing such a traumatic accident, many people would be wary of going anywhere near a snowboard.
“You just want to do it for yourself but also because people, like, want you to and they believe in you, and you make them feel some sort of way where they want to accomplish bigger things,” explained McMorris when he was asked the question.
“I don’t really think twice about going snowboarding again, that’s all I want to do and I live a pretty good life off of it.”
Back to Kelowna – McMorris said it means a lot to both be nominated for best male action sport athlete for the fourth time, and to actually win the award.
“Being nominated for a fourth time means you’re doing pretty good in snowboarding because there’s only ever one snowboarder nominated.”
He attended the awards the past three years, but said this year decided to attend a charity golf tournament in B.C. with a friend instead.
“I was just like, I don’t really know if I’m gonna really get an ESPY, and I really wasn’t, I didn’t have my hopes up.”
McMorris said any nod from ESPN is a big accomplishment, and a lot of victories have led to him to this point.
In addition to the silver ESPY on his shelf now, McMorris also has an Olympic bronze medal from the winter games in 2014, a silver from the 2013 world snowboarding championships, and 14 medals from the X-games.