Mark McMorris strikes gold

Last January, then-17-year-old Mark McMorris showed up to the Winter X Games a virtual unknown. He'd just started making the podium at major snowboard contests, and was officially picked up for pro sponsorship by Burton only weeks before he headed to Aspen. Then the Winter X rookie nabbed Slopestyle silver, and let the world know that a new snowboard superstar had just arrived.

This year, McMorris is back, proving that his silver was no fluke. On Friday afternoon, he came out on top of Snowboard Slopestyle men's elims. Then he came back Friday night and landed the first triple cork 1440 ever done in a competition, beating out triple cork innovator Torstein Horgmo for a gold in Big Air.

McMorris also has the distinction of being one of two wild cards selected for an entry into Travis Rice's Red Bull Supernatural backcountry contest taking place next week, having earned his spot by leading the TTR World Tour leaderboard in slopestyle points this winter. The second wild-card spot will be going to whoever wins the Men's Slopestyle contest tonight. We caught up with the Canadian teen phenom between events to find out what will happen if he earns a double gold and that second Supernatural spot ends up going to him.

First question: What's up with your hair?
What? What are you talking about?

In the Red Bull video we're running with this interview. It's so long. What's your end goal? A ponytail?
No! This summer it was long enough to put in a ponytail for sure, but it was too much. I had to cut it. I think I'm going to keep it at the length it's at now. Otherwise my helmet won't fit.

You're hanging out with the Frends kids, and they like that long hair style. Mikkel Bang started growing his hair out when he got into their crew, so I was just wondering.
I love the Frends kids, but I'm not hippie style. I'm a boarder friend, you know?

Mark Kohlman/ESPN

Mark McMorris, on his way to securing the top qualifying spot in Snowboard Slope men's elims.

You and Mikkel have a new trick?
Yeah, we learned frontside double cork 1080s the other day. We were in Breckenridge and were like "Let's learn a new trick," and we did. We both landed it in our run today.

But Mikkel didn't qualify for the finals?
Yeah, it sucks. He landed his first run great, but you don't always get scored as high on your first run as you do on your second. He should have made it in.

Is the frontside 10 a hard double? There aren't a lot people who can do it?
Oh no, there are a lot of people who can do it. I was just a late bloomer on the trick. I always did front 10 flat. Same with Mikkel. Seb [Toutant], Torstein [Horgmo] and Eric [Willett] can all do it. The front 10 double is definitely a little bit scarier than the other doubles because it's kind of blind, but it's been working out for me. I like doing them, so I'm going to keep doing them.

How's the slopestyle course?
It's interesting. That's my word for it. It can be really good, or really bad. The jumps are really tight together. I managed to do it, but there wasn't enough speed for a lot of people during elims today. But then when it's running fast there's too much speed, because the jumps come so fast and it's hard to do speed checks when you come down and have to go immediately straight back up. It's pretty fun when you get a good run in it, though.

How do you think it's going to be at night?
We've been doing practices at night and it's so much fun. I love riding at night.

So I hear you got one of the wild-card slots for the Supernatural. Are you excited?
Heck, yeah! I'm scared, though. I don't even know what's going to happen to me there. I'm just going for the experience, but I'm feel like I'm probably going to die.

Do you have much experience riding powder?
I grew up riding powder. When I was really young my coach would take us into the mountains. He was a really good snowboarder and he would never take us into the park. He made us ride really fast, big stuff. If there was powder we were not allowed in the park. No way. He made us really strong snowboarders. If you're a strong snowboarder and have good board control, all those tricks come so easy.

Trevor Brown, Jr./ESPN

First they don't know you, then they want to know all about you.

You know whoever wins the slopestyle contest gets the second wild card. Does everyone know that?
Oh, I forgot about that! Yeah, I think everyone knows. That will be so cool. Because then I'll have someone in my range of powder experience to hang with. I'm scared, but you know [laughs], I'll just keep my tips up. It'll be a good time.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The best snowboarders in the world are going to be there. It doesn't even matter if you do well. There are so many contests throughout the year that are so hard and ice-packed. It's going to be such a great refresher to go ride powder and have fun. I mean, it's going to be so intense, but so great.

What if you win the slopestyle contest? Will that other spot go to second place?
[Laughs] I don't know. I guess so.

So if you could pick one person to go with you to the Supernatural, who would it be?
Man, now that it's narrowed down to finals? Wow … I would have to say Gjermund [Braaten]. He's my favorite person to ride with. We have so much fun, and I can't ever stop laughing when I ride with him. I really hope he gets the spot.

You think he can?
Oh yeah. He's been riding so well this year. He's got all the tricks. He can do all the ones you need to win. He just needs to put it all together. He did it in Breckenridge at the Dew Tour with four jumps, and there's four jumps here, so I think he's got it.

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