Road To The Olympic Games

Canadian snowboarder McMorris in hospital after serious backcountry accident

Canadian snowboarding star Mark McMorris is in a Vancouver hospital after suffering several injuries in a backcountry snowboarding accident on Saturday.

Olympic medallist suffered several injuries including a ruptured spleen

The Olympic medallist suffered numerous injuries, including a broken jaw, ruptured spleen and a collapsed left lung, while backcountry snowboarding in Whistler, B.C. 3:03

Canadian snowboarding star Mark McMorris is in a Vancouver hospital after suffering several injuries in a backcountry snowboarding accident near Whistler, B.C. on Saturday.

Canada Snowboard spokesperson Brendan Matthews confirmed McMorris was filming with his brother, Craig McMorris, and friends when he was involved in a crash.

Canada Snowboard says the Regina native is recovering from a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.

CBC Sports' Jacqueline Doorey has the latest on the Olympic medallist's condition. 4:24

McMorris, his brother Craig and a few friends travelled into the backcountry by snowmobile near Whistler, B.C., to build the jump on Saturday.

"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.

According to Craig McMorris, weather wasn't a factor as his brother was attempting a frontside 360 jump, one of the easiest tricks that the Canadian would land "99.9 per cent of the time."

The 23-year-old Olympic bronze medallist underwent two surgeries over the weekend to control bleeding and to repair the jaw and arm fractures. He recently won a gold medal in the big air event at a World Cup event in February.

McMorris, who won Olympic slopestyle bronze in 2014 while competing with a broken rib, underwent two surgeries over the weekend to control bleeding and to repair the jaw and arm fractures.

Canadian team doctor Rodney French says both operations were successful. 

"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," French said in a statement release by Snowboard Canada. "It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark's recovery."

CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo gives you the low down on Canada's top snowboarder. 2:18

McMorris was airlifted from Whistler to Vancouver General Hospital.

"He was incredibly broken and it's one of the hardest things to see your younger brother in that situations," Craig McMorris said after leaving the hospital. 

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.

Injuries hamper McMorris

Despite his success, injuries continue to hamper the six-time Winter X Games champion.

At the 2014 Winter X Games he fell on the rails and fractured his rib during the final run of the slopestyle event just prior to the Sochi Olympics.

And in February 2016, McMorris fell hard on a landing at an Air + Style event in Los Angeles and broke his right femur. He had a metal rod surgically implanted in his thigh the day after the crash.

In a CBC Sports Good Times with Craig McMorris segment, Mark McMorris tells his brother how difficult it was being off his snowboard for six months. 


With the Olympics less than a year away, Canada Snowboard executive director Patrick Jarvis said McMorris will have to show he's physically able to compete in the lead up to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"He would have to prove a return-to-competition readiness to ensure that he's comfortable riding again, that he's back to the level of prowess that he's used to," said Jarvis. "All fingers crossed and we would certainly hope that Mark is able to do that.

"Certainly a little too early to speculate whether that will be probable or whether it's still just in the realm of possible."

His competitive season over, McMorris tweeted from Whistler on Friday.

Jarvis said Canada Snowboard's formal agreements with athletes don't include restrictions of activities.

"This is in their DNA," he said. "What they live for is to do this.

"It's natural for them to go out in the backcountry, seek out good snow, build jumps."

Mark and Craig, who is also an accomplished snowboarder, became reality TV stars a few years ago with their MTV docu-series "McMorris and McMorris," which featured the adventures and misadventures of the siblings.

Mark 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.

He made a relatively speedy recovery from the February 2016 injury, telling The Canadian Press in July 2016 that he was "85 to 90 per cent."

"I was probably as amazed as anyone with his recovery," Jarvis said Monday. "We'll see what transpires here in terms of where he's at mentally, physically.

"We'll be there to support him in whatever way we can, but you certainly feel bad about one of the best in his chosen sport and profession in the world."

With files from CBC Sports and CBC News

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