From Near-Death To Olympic Success: How Mark McMorris Can Inspire Us All

Everyone has had a time in their life where all hope feels lost. Whether it’s relationship problems, work issues, or health concerns, we know the feeling of being helpless. For snowboarder Mark McMorris, his helpless moment came after a near-death experience while on the hills in March of 2017.

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McMorris was out in the backcountry with his older brother Craig and some friends when he hit a jump.

“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,” Craig McMorris told CBC Sports. “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.

The Canadian Olympic bronze medalist from 2014 was left fighting for his life. Twenty-three-year-old McMorris suffered a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung. He was in intensive care and required multiple surgeries to repair the damage.

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“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,” team doctor Rodney French said in a statement release by Snowboard Canada. “It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery.”

The older McMorris was there at the time of Mark’s injury and helped build a “nest” as they waited for help to arrive. It took several hours before he could be airlifted to hospital.

“He was incredibly broken and it’s one of the hardest things to see your younger brother in that situations,” Craig McMorris said.

With his jaw wired shut, McMorris only had one thing on his mind. “Will I snowboard again?” was the first thing he wrote on a piece of paper.

But the resilient Canadian was determined to bounce back for the 2018 Olympics. The young Olympic athlete wasn’t about to give up, despite the long road ahead of him.

Craig McMorris

McMorris began healing and rehabilitating his injuries, which Craig documented on social media.

Craig McMorris
Craig McMorris

The McMorris family was just happy to see Mark back on his feet. The accident easily could have meant the end of his life, not just his snowboarding career.

“Mark is so focused and the hardest worker,” Craig McMorris said. “He is mentally so strong with this stuff.  It’s one of his greatest traits.”

Slowly but surely, Mark was getting back to normal, or as normal as possible after such a horrific crash.

“Mark’s doing amazing,” Craig said. “He’s like wolverine, the kid can heal like no other.”

To everyone’s shock and amazement, McMorris realized he was good to compete for the Olympics in October of 2017, just eight months after clinging to life on the hills of Whistler.

“To be honest, I was pretty sure I was going to die,” the snowboarder revealed.

But now, just 11 months after his horrific crash, McMorris is inspiring people everywhere.

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