As Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris stood on an Olympic podium near Pyeongchang, South Korea Sunday to receive a bronze medal, he hinted that his thoughts were not about his performance, but how he got there in the first place.
"I probably shouldn't be here," McMorris told The Associated Press. "I need to pinch myself a little bit."
McMorris, 24, was awarded his second Olympic bronze medal when he finished third in the men's slopestyle event. He won his first bronze medal during the very same competition in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
He posted a photo of his fellow medal winners and himself on the podium to social media with the words, "Thank You Life."
Thank You Life❤️ pic.twitter.com/TdHcIdWzqJ
— Mark McMorris (@markmcmorris) February 12, 2018
"I definitely had those thoughts that it wouldn't be reality," McMorris told ESPN. ) "I kind of have a different outlook on life now. To land a good run and stand on the podium again, it definitely feels special. Yeah, it's definitely a miracle, and I'm really thankful."
It was a comeback of epic proportions. A mere 11 months ago, McMorris nearly lost his life in a snowboarding accident in British Columbia. The Saskatchewan native was working on a film project with friends last March in a remote area when he crashed into a tree.
When he woke up from a medically induced coma, he took stock of what had happened to him. McMorris was dealing with a collapsed lung, 17 broken bones, including a broken jaw and a fractured left arm, plus a ruptured spleen.
But you can't keep an Olympic athlete down. He wrote his doctor a short note that asked, "Will I be able to snowboard again? The doctor answered, "Yes." And that was all McMorris needed to hear.
Determined, he spent the next several months in rehabilitation, slowly working hard to make it back to not only good health but to make it back to the slopes.
"I was pretty sure I was going to die. I will never take another day on this Earth for granted. Much Love." he wrote on an Instagram post to fans in April.
Apparently a lot can change in a week.. So so thankful to have my life! It was touch and go there for a second and I don't know how I can thank everyone enough for praying and sending healing vibes.... I hit a tree in the whistler backcountry a week ago and to be honest I was pretty sure I was going to die... @craigmcmorris @torsteinhorgmo @erinhogue @brandonkelly and @ryantiene saved my life by staying calm, building me a nest, and calling search and rescue I will never take another day on this earth for granted .. Much Love❤
McMorris' persistence and training paid off. Last November, he won the Big Air World Cup event in Beijing. He followed his success in December, winning a bronze medal in the Winter X Games.
Then he set his sights on the Olympic Winter Games, and when he won his medal, he acted as though he really didn't care what color it was.
His amazing comeback has inspired many people around the world, including many in his native Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even posted a photo of McMorris with his bronze medal on his Twitter account and wrote," What a journey back to the podium for @MarkMcMorris. Mark your tenacity and courage inspire so many of us."
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 11, 2018
When asked about his rise as an inspirational figure, McMorris just smiled.
"I'm glad I can play that role and feel lucky to be in the position I'm in, being able to inspire others," he said. Being able to inspire others is better than any medal."
You can follow McMorris on Twitter: @MarkMcMorris