CALGARY — Canadian snowboarding icon Mark McMorris says being named the marshal for the parade that will kick off this year's Calgary Stampede is part of the "most successful" year of his life.
The two-time Olympic bronze medallist wore a beige cowboy hat as he rode to the announcement Thursday on horseback.
McMorris, who is from Saskatchewan, is one of his sport's most decorated athletes, winning multiple medals in both slopestyle and big air events.
"It's cool getting to jump back on a horse. It's definitely been over a decade so that was really fun. I'm gonna ride a horse for an hour and a half on the parade day and that's going to be crazy. It's going to hurt. I'm gonna be bowlegged," McMorris said to laughter.
"It's just a huge honour and this is the most iconic Canadian event we have pretty much so I just feel like it's the best fit."
McMorris took home bronze in slopestyle at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and again in 2018 in Pyeongchang.
The 2018 medal was notable because it came just months after a near-fatal crash that landed McMorris in intensive care. He hit a tree off a jump during a trip to the backcountry with some friends , including his brother Craig, in March 2017.
McMorris suffered breaks to his jaw and left arm, a ruptured spleen, a stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung. He spent 10 days in hospital and was on a liquid diet for six weeks.
"I was really lucky to stand on pretty much every podium of the contest I was in," McMorris said.
"From what I thought would never be a successful year, this was my most successful year of my life and it's just inspiring. I just want to keep doing more of this and keep inspiring the youth. That's what makes me feel best."
David Sibbald, president and chairman of the board at the Calgary Stampede, said the decision to ask McMorris was an easy one.
"You're one of the most genuine young men I've ever met in my life," said Sibbald. "This man has an incredible story. His commitment to his sport, his commitment to his community is the reason he's here. We all know his story."
McMorris said he has been to the rodeo before in Saskatchewan but it wasn't on par with what he will see in Calgary. He's also intent on having a good time while attending the so-called Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
"That first day, the ladies inform me that I'm gonna be very busy ripping around. But then I'm gonna have like 15 of my closest friends, entourage homies for Saturday and we're definitely going to get after it."
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press