Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris is no stranger to pain: he’s broken bones – many bones – but keeps coming back to compete.
He won bronze in Sochi in 2014, after breaking a rib just 11 days before.
He broke a femur at the X Games in 2016, while landing a big air jump, and was competing again less than a year later.
And, as he said, he “broke everything” in a backcountry crash in early 2017. He smashed into a tree while doing a trick and was out cold for about 45 seconds.
McMorris, who captured a bronze medal in the slopestyle event at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Saturday (Sunday, South Korea time), broke his jaw and left arm, ruptured his spleen, suffered a pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed lung.
The injuries were so severe that he feared for his life.
“I thought it was going to be the end for a long time but luckily all the injuries I was able to come back from. I am very, very blessed to have another chance to go snowboarding,” he said. After his accident in March, he was back in November to compete at a World Cup event in Beijing – where he won gold.
WATCH: One of Canada’s best snowboarders, Mark McMorris, was in hospital after a terrible crash near Whistler, B.C. Robin Gill explains what happened. (March 27, 2017)
McMorris says that his injuries have given him a new outlook on life.
“It makes me thankful to be here and to experience everything again and whatever outcome happens it is better than what it could have been,” he said.
He admits his sport is dangerous and that experiencing so many injuries has made him more nervous to go for spectacular jumps.
“I try and keep it out of my mind but definitely it makes me more insecure than I was in the past. But over time that goes away, which is chill,” he said.
“This sport is pretty scary at times, especially when you are pushing for the optimum.”
McMorris is a medal favourite for the slopestyle competition, as well as the big air competition on Feb. 24.
–With files from Reuters and the Canadian Press