People were cheering extra loud at Asessippi Ski Area and Resort this weekend when Regina snowboarder Mark McMorris won Canada’s first medal of the Sochi Olympics.
McMorris used to compete at the ski area, which is near Russell, Man. and nabbed a bronze medal for slopestyle snowboarding in Sochi on Saturday.
But people at Asessippi ski area say they knew McMorris was destined for big things as far back as five years ago. He started competing at the resort when he was as young as 14.
“I was pretty pumped! I was really expecting [him to get] a gold. I was really hoping for it,” said Luke Moore, who is a snowboarding instructor and coach who competed against McMorris at the hill.
McMorris was a favourite to win the gold medal in the men's snowboard slopestyle event, but he fractured a rib just two weeks ago during the X Games. Despite that, he was still able to secure a spot on the podium.
“I was really impressed at the runs that he did — just watching it, it was incredible to see how he maintained himself,” said Moore.
Moore said everyone at the ski hill is thrilled but not surprised.
“He was really good for sure — way better than anybody at Asessippi. We knew he had to go somewhere bigger because it was just child’s play here,” he said. “The competition he was facing here was nothing.”