Snowboarding

CBC Sports - Monday Jan. 27, 2014 14:24 ET

Mark McMorris faces uphill battle to recover in time for Olympics

Snowboarder on the mend after X Games crash

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The Canadian Olympic Committee has put Mark McMorris front and centre in their ad campaign, but he's now facing adversity. (Jonathan Heyward/Canadian Press)
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Mark McMorris is likely too sore to laugh at any irony.

For all the talk in recent months about the prospective rivalry between McMorris and American snowboarding star Shaun White, it was a fellow Canadian who put the heat on the Regina native in the sometimes dangerous slopestyle competition.

McMorris, on his third and final run Saturday at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., caught the top of the rail and somersaulted down the slope, cracking a rib. 

As a result, the Sochi prospects for gold-medal favourite McMorris could take a huge hit.

Craig McMorris told CBC on Monday that his younger brother was likely thinking ahead to his next trick due to the great run that had just been laid down by Max Parrot of Bromont, Que.

"Mark's final run, he had to do something absolutely incredible, and sometimes on the top rail they do the exact same thing, and on the bottom jumps they really try and amp it up,"Craig McMorris said.

"I think he just lost a little bit of focus on what he was doing and when you do that in slopestyle [there can be] devastating consequence," he added.

It is now a matter of "hurry up and heal," as the Olympic slopestyle qualification takes place at Feb. 6 at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, with the final two days later.

McMorris has already boarded a plane to Europe and likely won't do any training until Sochi, his sibling said.

Don McMorris, their father, told The Canadian Press that, all things considered, the rib injury could be worse. 

"When we left him [Sunday], he could bend over and touch his toes because of where [the injury] is at," Don McMorris told The Canadian Press on Monday.

"You know a cracked rib in the front, you couldn't do that, but where it's at [around the back], he could bend to his toes and could raise his knees up to kind of his chest.

"He was really doing better than we all thought. He's got five or six days before he has to worry about riding and he's got the best people around him."

Given the restrictions from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), McMorris will have to choose his painkillers carefully to make sure he doesn't ingest any banned substances. That could make his recovery even more difficult, or at least more uncomfortable.

X Games worth injury risk

The Winter X Games are held in late January or early February. There's money and publicity to be had, but they're a dicey proposition for those wanting to preserve their bodies for Sochi competitions.

"It's such a fine line, there's no really right or wrong answer," Craig McMorris said when asked how far an athlete should push things in the run-up to the Winter Olympics.

Which leads to the other irony: McMorris skipped the more dangerous Big Air competition in Aspen, which is not an Olympic event.

That, too, was won by Parrot, who's now putting himself in position to be a favourite at Sochi.

White, it should be noted, suffered a shiner this weekend. Attempting to compete in both slopestyle and half pipe, where he's won two Olympic medals, White has also dealt with an ankle injury this season.

Physical healing aside, the 20-year-old may have suffered a dent to his confidence.

But Craig McMorris isn't too concerned about the mental aspect come race day.

"Once you're at the top of a slopestyle run and there's so much pressure and you have so much adrenaline, if anyone can fight through it, it's Mark."

-- With files from The Canadian Press

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