P.E.I. snowboarder now shredding for Team B.C.
'I love to race and I always just want to get better'
Competitive snowboarder Mark Morrison of P.E.I. has earned a spot with Team British Columbia.
Morrison, 19, competes in a sport called snowboard cross — racing four-abreast through a banked course.
"I decided I'd probably excel a lot quicker if I joined up with a team, which I'd been hoping to do originally," Morrison said over the phone from Whistler, B.C., where he moved last year to pursue the sport.
Morrison paid a $4,000 registration fee to become a member of Team B.C.
"That's actually on the cheaper side for most snowboard teams, because team B.C. is provincially funded," Morrison explained. He must also pay coaching fees, travel and competition fees.
We're always pushing each other to go faster, go bigger.— Mark Morrison
Morrison was invited to an initial summer training camp to see if he'd fit with the team, "because as much as it is a solo sport, it's a team sport — you have to get along with your team when you're training," he said.
"It means I get a lot more of an organized training program," he said. The team had an intensive summer training program to prepare the athletes for winter, Morrison said, which included hitting the gym six days a week with a personal trainer, training camps, trampoline sessions, hiking, climbing and cycling.
"It was a lot of fun, but it was tough work too," Morrison said.
He did all this while working two jobs all summer, he said, so he often squeezed training times into early mornings and late nights.
Being part of Team B.C. also allowed him to participate in pre-season events — they trained in Argentina for a couple of weeks in the fall, which Morrison said "was a lot of fun and definitely good experience." It also allowed for team building and checking out racers against whom they'll be competing this season.
Morrison is now working just one job — he's a full-time meat cutter at a market in Whistler, and juggles that with gym time and snowboarding on the magnificent peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb.
'I committed to this'
Maintaining his busy schedule takes a lot of determination and dedication.
"I just basically tell myself that's why I'm out here — I committed to this, I have to do it, if I don't follow through then in a way it's a waste of my time," Morrison said.
"But it's what I do, I love to race and I always just want to get better."
So far, he's enjoyed the camaraderie and support of having a team, especially during travel, he said.
"We're always pushing each other to go faster, go bigger."
'Expecting to do a lot better'
Morrison is highly goal-oriented and has a solid idea what success looks like for him. He exceeded his goal last season of placing in the top half of his races — and though he didn't make a podium, he had some top-16 finishes.
This season he's set this goals higher: some top eight finishes, as well as remaining in the top 16.
"I'm expecting to do a lot better, with training now — [I'm] a lot more organized for sure," he said. If he does well this season with Team B.C., he'll continue pursuing his goal of being selected by Canada to compete on the World Cup circuit.
Snowboard cross is an Olympic event — Morrison would love to compete for Canada in four years, or even eight.
He's pragmatic about the possibility he won't get good enough to make the cut, but says he plans to give it his all before calling it quits.
"Everyone has to have a backup," he said.
Morrison just started getting into photography, and thinks he might like to pursue it as a career someday. "But for now, I'm really pushing for the snowboarding."
Morrison is sponsored by online retailer Altitude Sports and winter clothing brand Norrøna, which have provided him with about $2,000 in gear over the last couple of years.
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