April 24th, 2024

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris healing from kneeing himself in the face, surgery

By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

Canada's Mark McMorris celebrates with his bronze medal during the medal ceremony for men's snowboard slopestyle at the Beijing Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China, on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris is sporting a look these days courtesy of his knee to his face. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris is sporting a look these days courtesy of taking his knee to his face.

The 30-year-old from Regina posted on Instagram earlier this week a video of himself spinning and twisting high above a snowy slope.

Upon landing, the video immediately cut to the snowboarder in a Revelstoke, B.C., hospital bed with a bruised eye swollen shut, crooked nose and facial cuts.

McMorris didn’t quite stick the landing of a double backflip backside 180 with a nose grab. He drove his knee into his face and broke his orbital bone and his nose.

He thanked his goggles for absorbing some of the impact of his knee, saying, “because I’m not sure where my eye would be. Maybe in the back of my head.”

McMorris underwent surgery Monday in Vancouver. On the brighter side, McMorris didn’t sustain a serious concussion.

“When you break your orbital bone and your nose, you don’t rule it out, but my symptoms on the concussion front are super-mild and I have full recollection of what went on,” he said.

McMorris is a triple Olympic bronze medallist in slopestyle in 2014, 2018 and 2022. He holds the Winter X Games record for the most career medals with 23, including 11 gold. Six career gold medals in men’s slopestyle is also a record.

He’d taken a step back from competition this season, although he claimed an X Games slopestyle silver medal in Aspen, Colo., in January.

McMorris was filming a Burton Red Bull film in the backcountry near Revelstoke after competing in last week’s Natural Selection event.

“I took a bit too much speed at the jump,” he said. “I went a little bit long. I didn’t catch the transition where I probably should have and then kind of over rotated the trick I was trying, so it was a combination of things that led to it.

“Luckily, I was with amazing guides and they flew me out and got me to the hospital right away. I got X-rayed and taken awesome care of.

“The decision was that I needed to be operated on, but we needed the swelling to come down. I packed up and got out to Vancouver to see Dr. Aaron Brown who actually did my jaw when I got hurt about seven years ago.”

McMorris waited until just before surgery Monday in Vancouver to post the Revelstoke video.

“I was a little bit sad then but now I’m feeling a lot better and I’m happy to have the surgery behind me and just be moving forward with the healing process,” he said. “I’m lucky to to have all my lower extremities in great shape. I will be snowboarding again in four to six weeks.”

McMorris is no stranger to rehabilitation.

Less than a year after flying into a B.C. backcountry tree – the tally was left arm and jaw injuries, a ruptured spleen, fractured pelvis and ribs and collapsed left lung – McMorris won the second of his three Olympic medals.

Near the end of a dominant season in which a snowboard magazine named him the 2016 rider of the year, McMorris broke a femur at an Air and Style event in Los Angeles.

McMorris won Canada’s first medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where he competed with a fractured rib sustained at the X Games less than a month earlier. He fell on his first run of the final, but nailed his second to claim bronze.

He says his current injuries will interrupt training. He’s unable to continue the Burton film shoot that has shifted to Alaska.

“Definitely not my first rodeo and the rehab shouldn’t be too strenuous,” McMorris said

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.

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