VANCOUVER – Snowboarding star Mark McMorris, one of Canada’s medal favourites at next year’s Winter Olympics, is in a Vancouver hospital after suffering several injuries Saturday during a backcountry excursion.
The Regina native is recovering from a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung, Canada Snowboard said in a release Monday.
No details of how McMorris suffered the injuries were given. Fans of backcountry skiing and snowboarding seek out fresh fallen snow on unmarked and ungroomed slopes in remote areas that usually aren’t maintained and patrolled by the personnel seen at traditional resorts.
The 23-year-old Olympic bronze medallist underwent two surgeries over the weekend to control bleeding and to repair the jaw and arm fractures. Canadian team doctor Rodney French said both operations were successful but couldn’t predict how long McMorris will be sidelined.
“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,” he said in the statement. “It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery.”
But Patrick Jarvis, Canada Snowboard’s executive director, said McMorris will be “prepared for the rehabilitation required to make a comeback to competition leading into (the 2018 Olympics).”
“We fully support Mark and he is already under the incredible care of the staff of the Vancouver General Hospital,” said Jarvis.
His competitive season over, McMorris tweeted from Whistler on Friday: “So nice to be ripping around with @Craig_McMorris again! So so FUN.” The tweet included a video of him and his brother Craig performing a series of tricks on what appears to be a groomed course.
Mark and Craig, who is also an accomplished snowboarder, became reality TV stars a few years ago with their MTV’s docu-series “McMorris and McMorris,” which featured the adventures and misadventures of the siblings.
McMorris won three X Games medals this season along with two World Cup Crystal Globes, one for the new Olympic discipline of Big Air and another as the overall World Cup champion.
His dominant season came on the heels of another serious injury suffered in February 2016 when he caught an edge on a landing at an Air + Style event in Los Angeles. He fractured his right femur and had a metal rod surgically implanted in his thigh the day after the crash.
He made a relatively speedy recovery from that injury, telling The Canadian Press in July 2016 that he was “85 to 90 per cent.”
“Mark has shown incredible resilience and commitment to recovering from injury and we know that Pyeongchang 2018 will be a strong motivation for his comeback,” said Jarvis.
McMorris also won Olympic slopestyle bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics while competing with a broken rib.
Canada Snowboard said McMorris is “currently resting at Vancouver General Hospital and is not available for comment.”