Mark McMorris is NEXT
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Jan. 7 NEXT Issue. Subscribe today!
IF THERE'S ANYTHING a pro snowboarder takes pride in representing, it's the mountain that raised him. But Mark McMorris doesn't have a mountain to call home. The 19-year-old Canadian grew up in Regina, a town so flat that riding on snow days meant using skateboard ingenuity to build rails to session in his backyard. But he used it to his advantage. "Riding those rails and little jumps taught me great technical skills and board control," he says.
Slope is all about imagination and creativity. I just keep trying to push the sport forward and keep the progression -- and style -- going.Mark McMorris
The snowboarder caught his big-air break when he was recruited onto Team Saskatchewan at 12 years old. That meant weekend trips to Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, where the team had access to world-class terrain and elite-level jumps. "Once I hit those bigger jumps, I knew that's what I loved,"
Within five years, McMorris was turning heads with some of the most progressive rail riding and big-air tricks in slopestyle, winning silver in his 2011 Winter X debut. Later that year, he landed the sport's first triple cork while at a magazine photo shoot in Colorado -- that's three flips and four spins for anyone who's counting. Since then, only four other riders have landed it but never in a snowboard slopestyle competition run. McMorris plans to be the first, at Winter X Games Aspen on Jan. 26. After that, he'll focus on the Sochi Games in 2014. "When the Olympics come around, a triple will be in the winning run," McMorris says.