It's August 25th at 3:56 p.m. In four minutes, I'm talking to Mark McMorris. A living legend. A GOAT. The phrase “needs no introduction” was intended for people like him.
Before the call, I make sure everything is perfect. I put my favourite Quartersnacks hat on, check my sweater for stains, and set up my Zoom background. It’s a good balance of house decorations and open space. The room is well lit, tidy. My list of questions and a pen are on my right. I press call. "Hey!" he says, with a friendly smile and his hair sticking straight into the air. The boarder version of Albert Einstien. "I've been up since 4 a.m. getting emails done. I just got into Indonesia and can't sleep at all…"
Mark is one of the best snowboarders in the world. He also might be one of the most genuine and humble. How he answered this call is a testament to that. He'll make time for you no matter who you are, even if it is 6 a.m. As an audience, let's reciprocate. Take some time to enjoy this Lessons piece by Mark McMorris.
By Will Fraser
Snowboarding has taught me a lot about perseverance. With some of the injuries I've had, that's a huge one. In 2016, I was having the year of my life. I didn't feel like anything could go wrong, then I broke my femur. That was really hard. I’d never had an injury like that, in the middle of winter, with a seven-month recovery time and a major surgery.
When you have a lot of free time, you realize what matters to you. I was like, OK, I need to protect what I've built and come back really strong. My femur injury really helped me realize my work ethic and what I stand for. I learned a lot about my body and myself going through that. When what you love doing gets ripped away, it's like, fuck, I need to get that back.
Then in 2017 my first day in the backcountry, I wack a tree and pretty much die. I was in an induced coma for a while, broke 17 bones, ruptured my spleen, collapsed my lung, and had all these surgeries. During that time, I was like, "Fuck. I'm definitely done. There is no way!" I had like 10 months to the Olympics, and I was pretty much dead. I felt I was back at square one, with even more self-doubt.
It took a long time for me to get back into the mindset that I would get better. Thankfully I had so many people reaching out and wishing me well. It was overwhelming. That really helped. My mindset started shifting: "I gotta do it for them." The fact that they believe in me and think I can do it is way more motivating. It's more believable than just saying to yourself, "I'm going to recover from this."
I learned so much during those recoveries, about perseverance and community. Those accidents were rough. I can't think of a more challenging time and powerful life lesson than perseverance.
Be A Good Person
Snowboarding isn't like hockey, where if you're super fucking good, you will go to the NHL. In snowboarding, you’re hooped if you're good but not good with people. I claim that it's 50% how you snowboard and 50% how you interact with the community.
Growing up, I focused on getting good and getting results, thinking that it all would be magical. Then I started to realize that many people in contests were getting good results but didn't have sponsors. That's how I realized it's about giving energy to the other sides of snowboarding. You can't just be the best.
Someone who was also instrumental in teaching me how to treat others was Jake Burton. He didn't give a fuck if you were the doorman or if you were the CEO. He treated everyone equally and gave every single person his time. He just wanted to know about people. Even if it was a five-minute thing, he'd be like, "Where are you from? What do you do? What are you into?" That was eye-opening for me. That's how I wanna be. I wanna give people the time of day. I wanna be present. I'm not a superstar and I know this is short-lived, so I'm adamant about how I treat people.
On top of that, my injuries have really shaped this perspective. As I described earlier, I woke up from my coma feeling crazy. I realized how unbelievably lucky I was to be alive and that my brother was there to save my life. At that moment, I realized how important it is to take care of the people closest to you. Those are the people lifting you up during the lows. You gotta take care of them and let them know you care by being good to them.