Mark McMorris

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Japan’s 17-year-old Takeru Otsuka gets X Games Big Air gold

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17-year-old Takeru Otsuka of Japan came out victorious under the lights at the X Games Friday night in Aspen, taking home gold in Snowboard Big Air.

Otsuka was ready for his Aspen debut, after winning the event at last year’s X Games Norway. After sketching out on his first attempt, Otsuka landed a frontside triple cork 1800 tail grab, earning hime 43.00 points from the judges. His final attempt was a squeaky clean cab triple 1620 with a locked in indy grab, which thrust Otsuka into the lead with 88.00 total points.

Canada’s Mark McMorris, who has had to make repeated comebacks from injuries over the past two years, finished with silver behind Otsuka, with Sweden’s Sven Thorgren getting bronze.  

According to the Aspen Times, McMorris was just a little over a month removed from having surgery to remove pins from his leg, and riding in the X Games Big Air event on Friday was only the fifth time he had been on the white stuff since being relieved of the pins.

McMorris suffered multiple injuries after a frightening brush with death back in 2017 when he slammed into a tree while snowboarding in the backcountry. His list of injuries included fractures to his jaw, arm, pelvis, ribs, a ruptured spleen and collapsed left lung. McMorris was able to heal and compete at the 2018 PeyongChang Olympics where he won his second Olympic bronze medal in Slopestyle.

Canada’s 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air gold medalist Sebastien Toutant finished off the podium in Aspen in fourth. The U.S.’ 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Big Air silver medalist Kyle Mack and bronze medalist Billy Morgan of Great Britain did not compete in Aspen.

Otsuka has also had success this season on the World Cup, posting wins in both Big Air and Slopestyle.

Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles win ESPYs

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Michael PhelpsUsain Bolt and Simone Biles earned ESPY awards on Wednesday for their Rio Olympic triumphs.

Phelps earned best record-breaking performance for extending his records for most Olympic medals (28) and gold medals (23).

“Today is my wife’s birthday, and we met here 10 years ago,” said Phelps, who was also named the best male U.S. Olympic athlete. “It’s the most amazing thing in the world.”

Bolt won best international athlete for a third time. He also did so in 2013 and 2017, one year after sweeping the Olympic 100m and 200m as he did in Rio.

Biles took best female U.S. Olympic athlete and best female athlete over nominees including Katie Ledecky.

“Ever since Rio, it has been an amazing year, and the best part of all has been meeting all of the young people who look up to all the athletes in this room,” Biles said in her acceptance speech. “It is an incredible honor and responsibility of being a role model.”

Snowboarding stars Mark McMorris and Anna Gasser won best action sports athlete awards.

A full list of winners is here.

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Mark McMorris: I thought I was going to die

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Mark McMorris, after regaining consciousness, thought we was going to die following slamming into a tree while snowboarding March 25, according to the Canadian Press.

“I didn’t think I’d ever snowboard again when I was laying there after I hit that tree,” McMorris, the Olympic slopestyle bronze medalist, said, according to the report. “I was awake and was waiting. As soon as the helicopter got there [90 minutes later] I went to sleep. I remember the whole time waiting, just trying to survive because ruptured spleen and all that, and my jaw was just hanging. I was puking. I thought I was going to die — literally.”

McMorris suffered a broken jaw and left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung from the backcountry crash in British Columbia.

“I broke everything, like 16 bones or something in one hit,” McMorris said, according to the Canadian Press. “That’s like a car crash.”

McMorris does plan to snowboard again, hopefully at the PyeongChang Winter Games. He was limited physically for one month after surgeries to control bleeding and repair the broken bones. He was on a liquid diet for six weeks, according to the Canadian Press.

McMorris already has a provisional spot on the Canadian Olympic team and could earn medals in slopestyle and the new event of big air.

McMorris’ older brother, Craig, was the first to find him after the crash on March 25. By then, McMorris had regained consciousness, but he was struggling to breathe with blood in his mouth, reports said.

“When you get injured usually it’s like, ‘Oh man I’m so bummed, but I can’t wait until the next time I can snowboard,'” McMorris said this week, according to the Canadian Press. “This time I was like, ‘I can’t wait until the next time I can move again or like — live.'”

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