The Brothers.

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Switch Backside 540  PHOTO: Russell Dalby

It’s a crazy thing that two kids came out of Saskatchewan and went global in snowboarding. Mark and Craig McMorris are from Regina, but you already knew that. Everybody knows that. It’s the first thing you read on either of their Wikipedia pages. You also know that the brothers starred in their own TV show that earned the highest viewership of any reality series on MTV Canada, and you know that Mark has a closet full of medals from X Games and one from the Olympics, where the whole world watched him stand on the podium while they listened to Craig’s voice commentate the broadcast.

Craig and Mark are less than two years apart in age and they’re best friends. Sure, they bicker and speak in their own language of endless inside jokes, but they’re closer than most brothers. Keep in mind that they’re barely adults. Many kids their age still live with their parents, debating a path of education or applying for minimum wage jobs as they try to “figure things out.” The McMorris duo figured it out a long time ago and have been lost in the world ever since, so it’s a trip to consider how young they actually are.

Mark, the younger sibling, is turbo-famous. When I finally tracked him down (you can read about what a challenge that was on the Introduction page of this magazine), I asked him how many interviews he’s given in his life. He guessed 2,000—with around 1,000 of them being specific to the Olympics. He’s been a featured guest on The Strombo Show three times in three years. “Strombo is a homie now and he calls me whenever he’s in LA,” Mark tells me, casually.

Why does George Stroumboulopoulos call Mark from LA, you ask? Be-cause Mark now lives in the area, though he’s almost never home. “It’s an easier place to travel in and out of than Regina,” he says of California. He’s at home now, hot off a bunch of tour stops and movie screenings for his newly released documentary-style film, but packing to leave for Austria, Milan, and then on to Beijing—an array of premieres, shop visits, and contests.

Craig explains the California home in more detail, citing that, “Mark basically walked into the skate shop and bought a new complete—except it was a house. It’s super sick,” referring to how Mark purchased a brand new show-house in Encinitas last year, including all the furniture and amenities that were staged inside for the viewing. That’s a bonafide 20-year-old baller move.

“The first time we lived down here, we rented a condo with Jack and Luke Mitrani, E-Jack, and some other friends,” Craig tells me. “We were like the Lost Boys, going full HAM. It was the best.” Mark bought his house the following year, where Craig has his own room that he randomly frequents (Mark doesn’t charge him rent). Norwegian pro and close friend, Ulrik Badertscher, has been living there for the past year, running the house in Mark’s constant absence and being the chef when there are people there. “I like to keep some rooms open because there are always so many homies coming through and it’s fun to be able to host them,” Mark says. Craig is there now, in his room, and Mark says that it would be awesome if they were roommates when they reach their fifties. The two have been catching up, while Mark is briefly passing through between premiere stops. Craig spent most of the off-season at his girlfriend, Marie-France Roy’s, place on Vancouver Island and Mark is clearly happy to have him in California now.

“I just saw his full part for the Shredbots movie yesterday and it’s insane!” Mark tells me. “Craig’s snowboarding is so different than it used to be. He’s been working his ass off and he’s killing it. I get amped watching him ride, but I never wish I was goofy-foot like him [laughs]. It’s cool that we’re different in ways.”

Mark attributes the video part to his opinion of Craig “really stepping up his game in life lately,” meaning that Craig is now putting in a ton of effort to grind on snowboard trips as much as he can, while working hard to condition his body when he’s not riding. Mark is forthcoming to say he’s proud of his big bro, while admitting that he sometimes feels like Craig’s big brother in matters of responsibility. That being said, Mark’s sole complaint—which is more of a compliment—about his brother is Craig’s ability to deflect anything putting him in the wrong by saying something to make everyone laugh and forget about it. “Craig doesn’t really have any wrongs about him and I know I’m a shit anyway,” says Mark.

The world premiere of In Motion was held in Vancouver on October 12th and Mark has since been on the road, making stops across North America for a month straight. A mass of 1,300 people showed up to the screening in Denver alone, which was after the movie became available on iTunes. His fanbase can pack a house, but the goal of the film wasn’t to sell-out theatres in Middle America. “I made the movie because I wanted to show a different side of my snowboarding that I knew I was capable of doing,” Mark says. “And I didn’t want to get stuck in the contest rut of doing the same tricks and the same runs in a bunch of different places.”

Riding backcountry and chasing powder days around the world hyped Mark up even more to compete. He went to Japan and did pow turns in the trees the day before flying to X Games, where he won.

“The other night I got so drunk at Mark’s Vancouver premiere and Aaron Biittner was there. I haven’t really hung out with him before and I was like, ‘Hey, man. You’re the best!’ I grew up watching him snowboard on a computer in the back of a minivan.” - Craig

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Boardslide top rung, Boardslide down PHOTO: Erin Hogue

“It was stressful to do my own movie, but it made me want to charge all the time,” he explains. “I wanted to build big shit that would work, get shots, and be productive. I felt like a bit of a crazy person.”

Years back—in Regina—before Mark had the closet full of gold medals at his house in California, he first got sponsored by O’Neill. He left school in the tenth grade and went to Quebec, where he stayed and rode with Seb Toutant for extended periods. “I started going to Colorado to do events and then it all started to happen super fast,” he says. “I got really lucky.”

It’s a stretch to say that Mark got lucky. He was 15 and his talent extended far beyond luck. Everywhere he went, people saw it. Seb’s Red Bull team manager watched Mark ride at a Sandbox shoot in Whistler and invited him to a progression camp in New Zealand. He went, and signed with Red Bull through Ryan Runke at the end of the trip. Well-known California-based agent, Ninja [ Jasen Isaacs], picked Mark up next and his first move was inking a long-term deal with Burton. And now he’s here, a few short years later, in California. “I owe it all to the guys who have spoken highly of me to the right people along the way,” Mark adds.

So, where was Craig during Mark’s rapid rise to the top? He was in Regina, finishing high school, but he was always around and always snowboarding. “When we were young, Mark was never afraid of falling and would take the most savage bails,” Craig says. “He’s always been gnarly, but that’s how he first started getting so good.” Craig does not possess the intense competitive drive of his sibling. He’s the jokester, good-times guy that everyone wants around all the time. But don’t be fooled by his casualness because he can also charge. “Mark has better willpower than me,” says Craig. “Like, he knows that he doesn’t need to order hot sake at 3 a.m.”

A mandatory sense of responsibility comes with all the travel, competition, and success. There’s a heavy weight of pressure that constantly exists on both brother’s shoulders. Mark admits that he doesn’t travel well and suffers badly from jetlag. “Traveling is hard,” he says. “If I have a big event on the other side of the pond, I make sure to use my upgrade points to sit at the front of the plane.” He packs compression socks, takes melatonin, and does whatever it takes to help his body endure the constant change of time zones. He’s got a lot of people standing behind him at big events and he doesn’t want to let them down.

Mark likes the California life whenever he has a chance to enjoy it. “I relax, surf (his girlfriend is Hawaiian pro surfer, Coco Ho), do physio, a lot of yoga, and work out,” he says. “Our sport is pretty gnarly and you need that time off.”

He gets pretty stressed at times, like when he finally gets home after lengthy tours and will wake up to 30 emails the next morning, telling him to do this, do that, book this, and go meet with so-and-so. “I’m like, ‘Fuck, man!’” he jokes. “But I can never complain. Ever. I stay humble and am grateful for it all.”

A lot of the requests from the upper powers via email are about doing interviews, and both brothers get their inboxes filled regularly. “I don’t get sick of doing interviews, but I like what I’ve been doing lately, talking about a movie that I made because it’s different,” Mark explains. “I’m almost always doing interviews about contests and can be a bit of a broken record.”

Mark and Craig are both on guard with the media. They have to be. Both of them live in the public spotlight and have had experiences with the press rolling over on them. They should probably be making me go through their agent to gain interview access, but they don’t because they’re real and they’re trusting and will give anyone their time. “It can be frustrating,” says Craig. “You can read something that someone wrote after you spoke to them and be like, ‘That motherfucker!’ I think you just need to know who you’re talking to and have your guard up.” He adds that his strategy with inter- views is to ask more questions than the interviewer asks him.

Mark has been worked by the press, who love to dramatize a fake feud with Shaun White and all kinds of Olympic-related nonsense, but he’s learned that he’s just gotta take it. Craig claims that Mark “made the chick from YoBeat cry” when he called her out for shitting all over him on the Internet after he gave her priority and his time for a post-X Games interview. Mark says he felt bad after he voiced up, but it had to be done.

“Doing an interview with someone like George Strombo is super fun and I always get to talk to some really inspiring people on shows like that,” Mark says. “Strombo is always super prepared. Obviously you’re super prepared because you’re in the action sports scene and you love it, but a lot of people will run with whatever random questions and topics. I’ll just start talking and not even know what’s happening.”

"I wanted to build big shit that would work, get shots, and be productive. I felt like a bit of a crazy person.” - Mark

not even know what’s happening.” It’s interesting to learn that there’s almost never any conversation preparation on mainstream shows before they roll the cameras on you, “aside from them putting makeup on you,” Mark adds.

As an extension of the constant interviews, the brothers do a lot of public speaking and engagement talks to large audiences. They visit universities across Canada and Mark presents his film onstage before each premiere screening. “I used to be nervous about public speaking, but I’ve had a lot of opportunities now to get more comfortable,” says Mark. “Craig and I have done a lot of talks and it’s scary, but we’ve figured it out and done well. It’s cool to get that experience.”

Gaining such experience has led Craig to landing major roles as a snowboard commentator. He was hired as the snow- board analyst for the Olympics by CBC and he commentates the X Games broadcasts for ESPN. “The announcing stuff is super dope,” says Craig. “It’s totally different than being a snowboarder, but a nice little break from it.”

Last winter, Craig went from filming in Quebec for a month and flew straight to X Games to commentate. “I like to be busy and do as much shit as I can,” he adds. “And I’m such a grom about snowboarding, dude. I fucking love it so much.”

Ninja is their agent, but they also work with Russell Reimer in Canada, who specializes in the Olympics. Reimer lined Mark up with some Olympic-related endorsement deals leading up to the Games and got Craig an audition with CBC for the commentator role. “Remember things were really heaty about Russia before the Olympics?” Craig asks before telling me about the group briefing the CBC held for their team prior to traveling to Russia. “Don Cherry and Peter Mansbridge, and everyone from the CBC you could think of were all there. Mansbridge is like the funniest dude ever. He’s so sharp!”

Craig argues that 90 percent of the mainstream audience doesn’t really know what snowboarding is, which makes commen- tating such a challenge. “You want to get people excited about it and inform them, but if you dumb it down too much, it can be insulting,” he explains. “Especially to the small percentage of core people. You have to walk a pretty fine line.”

Mark and Craig both say that Russia was a crazy experience. Craig was there for a month, grinding out long workdays and commentating the endless webcast coverage. “All the stuff the media was saying about the venues not being finished or built properly was basically true,” he says. “I stayed in the media village and the first day there, the guy I was staying with used the shower and the whole bathroom wall just fell over.”

Mark stayed in the athletes’ village, which was a totally separate area and on lockdown to any non-athletes, but Craig went over after Mark won the metal and “partied super hard.”

Craig also runs a hectic schedule, but it’s a different style than Mark’s. “Straight up, Mark is a brand,” Craig says. “I don’t think I’d survive trying to keep up to the schedule he’s on.” When Mark wasn’t filming for In Motion, he was on the full-time contest circuit with the same few elite snowboarders he competes against and battles for the center stoop of the podium all winter long. He says that as a group of like-minded guys with a common goal, who travel and snowboard together so much, they’re all great friends.

“It’s competitive, but you can only really be mad at yourself if you don’t ride well,” he explains. “You can’t be mad at the other shredders.”

The most important answer I want to get out of him about the contest scene is if it’s routine for the winner to pick up a bar tab for everyone else at the after-party of each event. “Yeah, usually,” he says. “If they even show up! I’m not gonna mention any names, but some of those guys don’t even go out! Some people are really cheap, but I’m not.”

Mark ain’t no contest robot. The kid can hang with anyone. I can’t help to think about how Mark is the same age as Justin Bieber—another famous Canadian. Though to not as drastic of a degree, Mark also lives in the public eye, which is a challenging place to exist. Millions of people hate Justin Bieber for no valid reason other than fame, but the poor guy never even had a chance at a normal life. It’s inarguable that Bieber’s life fucking sucks. Mark has somehow kept his head up and navigated the opinions of countless people who have never met him personally. And everybody loves Mark.

“Mark has experienced some crazy fandemonium, but he deals with it super well. He’s so professional,” Craig says. “We went to a bar in Kelowna recently, just trying to chill, and people wanted to get photos taken for like half and hour.” That occurred after the brothers did a 45-minute engagement talk at the local university, followed by two hours of signings and handshakes to an endless line of people. They each got sick afterwards.

Both brothers admit that it can be draining to meet a few hundred people, individually, and maintain an excitement level for every one of them, but they would never complain or leave someone hanging. “It’s pretty sick to have a few hundred stoked people show up to meet you,” Craig says. “You can never be bummed, you know? It frustrates me to see people who don’t deal with that well. Like, how could you be a dick to someone who just wants to meet you? That’s insane! There are some pretentious motherfuckers out there, though.” Craig furthers his opinion by saying that he knows what it’s like to stand in that line and there are a lot of people who he’ll still fan out on. “The other night I got so drunk at Mark’s Vancouver premiere and Aaron Biittner was there. I haven’t really hung out with him before and I was like, ‘Hey, man. You’re the best!’ I grew up watching him snowboard on a computer in the back of a minivan.”

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Gap to Lip PHOTO: Erin Hogue

“I probably wouldn’t be a snowboarder if it wasn’t for Mark. We always did it together, so if we didn’t have each other, I doubt we’d even do it because it kind of sucks snowboarding by yourself.” - Craig

At the root of it all, Craig and Mark are Regina boys—small towners, raised with the values of respect and humility. “Everyone is super down to Earth in Saskatchewan,” says Craig in explanation for how he and Mark maintain a sense of reality and their appreciative frame of reference. They share a core group of friends from school, who treat them the same no matter what their achievements and growing opportunities are.

People are real in Saskatchewan and both brothers are quick to say that they’d prefer to be spending more time there. “We go in the summer for a bit and then at Christmas, where we do a fundraiser every year,” Craig says. “But it’s hard to get there when you have all this other shit going on.”

Craig lives in Whistler for the bulk of the winter. With all of his diverging career endeavors, his main focus is on being a pro snowboarder. “You know how there are all those pro snowboarders who don’t even snowboard unless they’re filming or competing?” Craig asks, rhetorically. “I’m like the opposite of that. I need to snowboard every day. That’s why I wanna live in Whistler because when I’m not on a trip or filming, I get to ride the dopest mountains every day.”

Before Mark moved east and Craig moved west, Craig thought that moving to Whistler was career suicide, where other snowboarders on the come-up get stuck and never leave. Now that he’s there, he treats it like home, but is prepared to travel all the time if that’s what it takes. “Being from Regina, we always had to travel to go snowboarding, anyway,” he adds.

Craig is currently condo shopping in Whistler and is convinced that it will be the greatest place in the world as soon as it snows. He and Mark have been going to shops all over the Northwest on Mark’s film tour and meeting the staff. “They’re all like, ‘We just need a bit more snow and we’ll sell infinitely more product,’” Craig says. “We really need a good snow year to get everyone excited to go snowboarding again.”

Craig films with the production crew, Shredbots, and is not really involved in In Motion. “I just saw Mark’s movie for the first time in Vancouver and there are so many hammers in it,” Craig says. “Mark is so insanely good at snowboarding and can ride everything. He’s ridiculous.”

Craig feels like he’s coming off his best year ever in terms of progressing and filming a video part. He went to Europe three times and spent weeks on end in Quebec. “I’m stoked on my part,” he says. “I don’t want to sewer it on the record, but I didn’t get hurt and did some crazy stuff. I feel like I’ve just been scratching the surface and now I wanna film the best part of my life.”

Craig says with confidence that he’s not a baller like Mark and isn’t buying houses outright, but he’s making it. “I never knew if I could make it in snowboarding because I was never out winning contests and don’t have that gnarly competitive pressure on myself,” he says. “Somewhere along the line, I just decided to snowboard for myself and now it’s working out. I don’t have to work a regular job and I’m snowboarding all over the world. That’s the sickest thing ever.”

From the outside, I look at it like the brothers began a life of snowboarding together, before splitting up and taking different paths. Mark left school to chase the competitive dream and became a young phenom who cashed in quickly. Now he lives the high life, working his ass off to maintain his status of being at the top. When not on his snowboard, he’s a true professional in every respect. Craig stayed in Saskatchewan, finished high school, and grinded it out in the minor leagues for several years, filming low-budget video parts and living out of rental vans with groups of other young men. At some point, Craig looked beyond snowboarding and that’s what ultimately led him to success. His skill has since developed to be on par with anyone at the top of the ranks and he’s now sharing the dream lifestyle with his brother. Maybe I’m wrong in this analogy of things coming full circle, but it’s a nice story.

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Cab 9  PHOTO: Russell Dalby

“I probably wouldn’t be a snowboarder if it wasn’t for Mark,” Craig says. “We always did it together, so if we didn’t have each other, I doubt we’d even do it because it kind of sucks snowboarding by yourself.”

Mark’s main agenda is the next Olympics, where he wants another medal to put in his closet—that’s why he’s now re-packing to head across the pond and begin the early-season contest circuit in Europe and Asia. It’s a long road. “I have different things I want to accomplish with snowboarding,” Mark says. “Like, I want to do a next-level web series of some sort and I want to be in the next Olympics.”

Mark says there’s a transition in competitive snowboarding happening right now, where a lot of corporate money is funding training centers and national teams are emerging in many countries. “Kids are chucking their carcasses all over the world, all the time, focused on the Olympics. It’s gonna be like that for the next three years, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” he laughs. “Or join ‘em, then beat ‘em.”

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