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Sports Snowboarder Mark McMorris has eye on Olympics after life-threatening crash

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, B.C., February 21, 2017, about a month before his accident.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Olympic bronze medallist Mark McMorris has begun his comeback from a life-threatening snowboarding accident earlier this year.

The Regina native is working at a rehab centre in Burnaby, B.C., with the goal of recovering in time for the Pyeongchang Olympics in February, Canada Snowboard said in a release Wednesday.

McMorris suffered a broken jaw, broken left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung when he crashed off a jump in the B.C. backcountry on March 25. He was airlifted from Whistler to Vancouver General Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

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Damien Moroney, the director of rehabilitation and performance integration at Fortius Sport and Health in Burnaby, is overseeing McMorris's rehab. He also helped the snowboard star recover from a broken rib 11 days before the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and from a broken left femur last year.

"Mark has amazing mental and physical resiliency," said Moroney. "I am continually impressed with his commitment, focus, attitude and capacity in the gym at this stage of his recovery. He is fully engaged in the process of developing all the key pillars that underpin athlete performance in preparation for the demands of competitive snowboarding."

Canada Snowboard executive director Patrick Jarvis said McMorris has made great strides over the past few months.

"I am extremely pleased to see the progress that Mark is making on his rehabilitation," said Jarvis. "His headway is not surprising to me as he is committed, focused and works hard."

While it remains to be seen if the 23-year-old McMorris will recover in time to compete in South Korea, he has been assured a provisional spot on Canada's team.

McMorris, who won a bronze medal in Sochi, captured three X Games medals this season along with two World Cup Crystal Globes – one for the new Olympic discipline of Big Air and another as the overall World Cup champion.

His dominant season came on the heels of the broken femur, an injury that happened when he caught an edge on a landing at an Air + Style event in Los Angeles in February 2016. McMorris had a metal rod surgically implanted in his thigh the day after that crash.

A few days after the backcountry crash, McMorris tweeted that he "almost died."

"I'm really happy to be alive and to be healing," McMorris said in Wednesday's statement. "I'm super-committed to the process with Damien, his team and Canada Snowboard. I'm looking forward to getting back on snow. That's my focus right now."

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