Back on snow after his horrific crash, Canadian snowboard star Mark McMorris is plotting a return to competition in December.
The 23-year-old from Regina broke his jaw and left arm, ruptured his spleen, fractured his pelvis and ribs and suffered a collapsed left lung in March when he crashed into a tree in the B.C. backcountry.
McMorris says the Dew Tour event Dec. 14-17 in Breckenridge, Colo., will likely be the site of comeback, although he hasn’t completely ruled out an Air and Style competition Dec. 6-7 in Beijing.
“Realistically, there’s not any real top-tier events until December,” McMorris told reporters Tuesday on a conference call.
“I don’t really feel the need to do anything else. I’ve got my spot on the Olympic team. I just need to ride and start feeling comfy again.”
Winner of multiple X Games gold in slopestyle and big air, McMorris was about to board a plane Tuesday for Australia where he intends to catch up on lost time on snow.
“The next couple months for me look like getting back what I do and that’s just snowboarding a lot and doing my craft as much as possible,” he explained. “Staying away from sponsor obligations and media tours and whatnot and focusing on getting back to the basics.”
McMorris did some light boarding in New Zealand earlier this month while shooting a commercial, but preparation for February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, now begins in earnest for him.
“All those young and up-and-coming kids are snowboarding all day every day getting better,” he said. “For me, I haven’t been to snowboard much at all of course.”
McMorris won slopestyle bronze in 2014 despite a broken rib sustained a few weeks out from those Winter Games. Big air makes its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang.
If McMorris can return to form, he and Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., as well as Sebastien Toutant of L’Assomption, Que., make Canada a multi-medal threat in both events.
“If I feel anything like I do now, I’m very confident,” McMorris said. “I’ve just got to stay healthy and keep riding.”
But while he’s cleared the mental hurdle of fearing he’d never snowboard again, some physical maladies from his crash still linger.
Despite up to three hours of daily rehab at Fortius Sport and Health clinic in Burnaby, McMorris was limited in what he could with his arm to accelerate recovery.
“I shattered my humerus, which is the second-biggest bone in your body, and you can’t really walk on your arms all day long for rehab,” he explained. “It is taking awhile.”
McMorris broke his right femur landing a jump in February, 2016, and required surgery to implant a steel rod in his leg.
So while his past two seasons were among the best of his career results-wise, the drudgery of rehabilitation dominated both off-seasons.
“Probably over the last four years I’ve snowboarded less than every other pro snowboarder just because I have so many obligations and I’ve been hurt,” McMorris said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be healthy for the competition season, but it’s definitely been not a lot of time on snow and a lot of time in the gym and on rehab and flying around the world doing things for others.”
A prolific poster on his social media accounts, McMorris says he cringes when he looks at photos of his busted-up self in March.
“Now I feel I just feel really happy and thankful that I did get another chance because it was pretty serious there for awhile,” McMorris said.
“It definitely creates a good story. One I didn’t necessarily want to create, but here I am going through it. The fact that I got another chance makes me want to push really hard and become the best I can be.”