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Mark McMorris On Becoming One of the Best Snowboarders in the World

The champion snowboarder opens up about Unbroken, the documentary about his brutal 2017 backcountry accident.

Mark McMorris

Hometown and Home Base Regina

Claim to Fame Pro slopestyle and big-air snowboarder with medals from the X Games and the Sochi and PyeongChang Olympics; in 2011, he became the first person to land a backside triple cork 1440

Current Projects Competing in this month’s FIS World Championships in Utah; promoting his film Unbroken

Dream Destination Hakuba, Japan. “I’ve heard the alpine is some of the best in the world.”

How does a guy from the Prairies become one of the best snowboarders in the world?
It’s mostly to do with passion. Pro snowboarders don’t usually hail from Vail or Whistler. There’s a super mini-resort near where I grew up called Mission Ridge Winter Park – it’s like 97 metres of vertical. But they have a small terrain park, and it was enough to learn the basics. And having an older brother helped – we’d push each other to progress.

How much has snowboarding evolved during your career?
It’s night and day. When I started out, a 900 or a 1080 spin was the craziest trick around. When I went pro, we brought in double corks, but now that’s chump change. Today we’re into three revolutions, 1260s, 1440s, triple corks, quadruple corks.

Where would you like to see the sport go?
I’d like to see it move in an exploratory direction, as opposed to going further into gymnastics. There used to be a lot more snowboarding in slopestyle, more than just flip after flip. I love competing, but I’m trying to ride more backcountry for fun.

Unbroken documents your recovery after a 2017 backcountry accident left you with a broken jaw, ruptured spleen, collapsed lung and more. What was it like to watch it?
I wasn’t looking forward to it, and I was pretty emotional, since I’ve sort of tried to erase it from my memory. A crazy amount of work has gone into my recovery, but I think about it less and less every day.

What’s your process for coming up with new tricks?
It’s a lot of visualization. Every trick has other tricks that build up to it – maybe another revolution, a 180 or flip. If I have a trick figured out in my head, I can usually land on my feet in the first few tries. I just run things through my head until it can’t not work.

How do you prep right before a competition?
I like listening to music, but sometimes I get too pumped up, so I have to stop it. It’s usually smooth hip hop and R&B while I ride around and warm up. And I like to hang around friends – people that make me laugh so I’m not too nervous.

Do you have a favourite mountain?
Whistler! But really, any resort with good weather and a good crew is pretty dang fun. I like interior B.C., too, like Revelstoke. There’s so much good snowboarding to be done in our country, and I’m still exploring all of it because I’ve had such a competitive career.

What do you like to do when you’re not snowboarding?
I love separating myself from the snow and doing something that’s super-humbling, like surfing or skating. My body feels a little bit better in warm weather. I’ve had some great surf sessions near Kapalua, in Maui. I’m down to surf anywhere as long as I don’t have to put on a wetsuit that’s thicker than four or five millimetres.

Compression socks: yay or nay?
Frick yeah! I just wore my Burton pair on a flight from Europe and my ankles weren’t blown up at all. I need a compression suit.