British Columbia

Olympic snowboarder Mark McMorris injured near Whistler

Olympic slopestyle bronze medallist Mark McMorris, a podium hopeful for Canada at next year's Winter Games, has been injured while snowboarding in B.C. in what his brother called a "freak accident."

Slopestyle bronze medallist a podium hopeful at next year's Winter Games

Mark McMorris is the top-ranked men's slopestyle snowboarder in the world. (Sergei Grits/Associated Press)

Canadian Olympic medallist Mark McMorris suffered multiple fractures in a backcountry snowboarding accident near Whistler, B.C., on Saturday, says Canada Snowboard.

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

It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark's recovery.- Dr. Rodney J. French, Canada Snowboard team physician 

McMorris has a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, a stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung.

McMorris underwent surgeries on Saturday and Sunday — both successful, according to Canada Snowboard team physician Dr. Rodney J. French.

"While both the mandible and humerus fractures were complicated injuries, the surgeries went very well and both fractures are now stabilized to heal in excellent position," French said in a Canada Snowboard media release.

"It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark's recovery."

McMorris poses with his bronze medal on the podium of the men's snowboard slopestyle event at the Sochi Winter Olympics, on Feb. 8, 2014. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty)

Brother calls it a freak accident

Matthews said Canada Snowboard was not concerned about McMorris being in the backcountry.

"None of the reports we've been given speculated it had anything to do with conditions," he said. "These guys take considerable safety precautions. These things just can happen."

Craig McMorris said the group was jumping off a feature in the backcountry onto a landing area at a high rate of speed and from considerable height.

"There was fog kind of coming in and out, and Mark, unfortunately, drifted a little bit too far left ... and ended up in a clump of trees," he said.

"It's a freak accident, you know, 99.9 per cent of the time he would have landed in the snow and rode away. This time, for whatever reason, just a couple of feet to the left and ends up in pretty much the worst-case scenario."

Craig McMorris said his brother was conscious and alert as they waited about an hour and a half for search and rescue personnel to arrive.

"Mark's a fighter," he said. "He was obviously in the most amount of pain I've seen a human being, but it was good to see him communicating." 

Ranked No. 1 in slopestyle

Mark McMorris, 23, is the World Snowboard Tour's top-ranked male slopestyle athlete. The popular athlete even has his own video game, called Mark McMorris Infinite Air.

He won bronze in slopestyle at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and took gold in big air at a World Cup event in February.

Canada Snowboard executive director Patrick Jarvis said he believes McMorris will be able to compete in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where he could be a podium hopeful in both slopestyle and big air.

CBC News spoke with McMorris on Friday after he and fellow snowboarder Sebastien Toutant helped create a dream course on Grouse Mountain, in B.C., that looks to push the boundaries of the sport.

Born and raised in Regina, McMorris and his brother visit B.C. frequently.

Canada Snowboard said McMorris is currently recovering at Vancouver General Hospital.

Facebook video: Mark McMorris at Grouse Mountain