Mark McMorris is finding joy on a different sort of board as he works towards a return to snow.
The Saskatchewan snowboarding star says the recent tricks he’s been able to do skateboarding make him feel closer to getting back on his preferred plank.
Wheeling outdoors in Vancouver’s Ambleside Skatepark is also a relief from the drudgery of rehabilitating from a broken femur suffered Feb. 21.
Mark McMorris breaks femur in snowboarding fall
“I’ve been skating a lot and it’s going better and better each time,” McMorris told in a phone interview from Toronto on Monday.
“It’s been so lame for the most part, not doing what I like. Ever since I started skateboarding and actually being able to skateboard as of June 23, everything has been so happy and positive.”
McMorris was having a dominant 2015-16 until he caught an edge upon landing at an Air + Style event in Los Angeles.
He fractured his right femur, or thighbone. He had a metal rod surgically implanted in his leg the day after the crash.
McMorris had won X Games gold and silver in slopestyle and big air respectively in Aspen, Colo., as well as a US$75,000 winner’s check at the Laax Open in Switzerland, in the weeks before the wreck.
A snowboarding magazine had also just named him the 2016 rider of the year.
He spent most of his post-op rehab in Vancouver working with therapist and strength coach Damien Moroney.
McMorris started out walking on a water treadmill, but says he’s now pushing his leg to exhaustion in training.
The 22-year-old from Regina includes the figure “100′” in his tweets because that’s his goal percentage.
“I am feeling about 85 to 90 per cent,” McMorris said. “I feel like I can go snowboarding right now, but I don’t have fun snowboarding unless I can do it properly 100 per cent.”
McMorris won Olympic slopestyle bronze in 2014 despite a broken rib.
He’ll have a gentle re-introduction to snow Aug. 10 during a sponsor’s catalogue shoot in New Zealand. McMorris then has a three-week training block planned in Australia.
“I’m excited to get some powder because my season was cut short,” McMorris said.
“By the fall, I want to not know I broke my femur and I want to be doing new tricks and getting them consistent. I want to dominate next year.”
Despite his abbreviated season, McMorris is a nominee for an ESPN Espy award in the category of male action sport athlete for a third time in his career.
Online voting ends July 13 when the winners are announced in Los Angeles. McMorris is up against skateboarders Pedro Barras and Nyjah Huston, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and motocross racer Ryan Dungey.
McMorris set a high bar for his comeback, given his performance prior to his injury.
“I feel like the first month or two months I was ‘OK, how am I ever going to snowboard how I did before?’” he said.
“Now I know I will snowboard that way again and I will make a full recovery.”