Is Mark McMorris ready to be famous?
Snowboarder's star is on the rise
Remember this name: Mark McMorris.
McMorris, 19, is the world leader in snowboard slopestyle. He’s already a star in the world of X Games and Dew Tours, but is poised to become a household name when slopestyle debuts at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“I already have a lot of non-snowboarding fans, mostly teenage girls,” McMorris said with a smile. “I don’t think [the new fame is] going to explode incredibly fast but it’s going to be faster than it has been. And I think what I’ve been putting out to build myself I’m really happy about.”
McMorris, who is from Regina, won his first slopestyle World Cup on Jan. 30, 2010, at just 16. Two years later, he became the first person ever to land a backside triple cork 1440 in competition — a jump involving three full rotations (spins) and three full flips in the air, all at the same time. The backside porton means starting the trick blind, turning backwards. Translation: it’s hard.
He has won back-to-back X Games gold medals and the Burton US Open title, and has pre-qualified to represent Canada in slopestyle snowboarding at the Olympics in Sochi. He has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter and more than 91,000 on Instagram; his Facebook page has more than 30,000 “likes.”
On Friday, he’ll become even more famous when MTV begins airing McMorris & McMorris, a reality show about him and his older brother, Craig. The show follows them around the world on various adventures, what Craig calls “exactly our real life.”
“I think we wanted to show the side of snowboarding that isn’t so serious,” Mark said . “I want people to know that with a serious sport, where you risk your life all the time, we also enjoy ourselves a lot.”
“We want to show people that just because you’re from Saskatchewan doesn’t mean you can’t be a snowboarder,” added Craig. “Don’t let your location hinder your dreams to do something you want to do.”
Producers tailored shooting of the eight-episode show to McMorris’s training schedule; each episode is based in a single location.
“Every single day, week in week out, there’s an awful lot expected from him as a professional athlete, as someone who is top of his game at the moment, as someone who is going into an Olympic year with multiple obligations to multiple sponsors,” said the show’s director, Alex Craig.
“Trying to get a spare day or week was really, really tricky.”
Fame has come gradually
The world of reality television often comes with negative connotations. Many of the stars from popular reality shows such as Jersey Shore, Keeping up with the Kardashians or Wake Brothers have experienced backlash for being famous for no reason.
But McMorris’s father, Don McMorris, says it helps that his son’s transition into the spotlight has been gradual.
“He’s been at this for a long time,” said Don, the minister of highways and infrastructure for the province of Saskatchewan. “It started when he was 13 at least and so it’s been building. He’s been doing this for half his life and wanting this and dealing with this.
“I just want him to stay humble.”
So far the star seems unphased by all of the attention. He says he’s focused on staying in shape and on the Olympics. He feels less pressure heading into the World Cup season than normal as he knows he’s already punched his ticket to Russia.
“I’m just going to try to ride for myself,” he said. “I’m going to try to get everything as consistent as I can but do less contests.
“Last year, I did a bunch and I was slightly burnt out when I got to X Games (in late January), but I’m usually always riding my best around then so I’m going to try to do a little less and hopefully hit my stride at the Olympics.”