Snowboarder Mark McMorris tests positive for COVID, out at X Games

McMorris is the most decorated Winter X Games athlete of all time and the first major athlete to withdraw this year

Canada’s Mark McMorris won’t compete at X Games Aspen this week after testing positive for COVID-19. (Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times file photo)

Canadian snowboarding superstar Mark McMorris announced on his social media channels Tuesday morning that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete at this year’s X Games in Aspen.

ESPN’s signature winter event is scheduled to run from Friday through Sunday at Buttermilk Ski Area. McMorris is the first significant name to publicly announce a positive test. He hasn’t missed an X Games competition in Aspen since his first in 2011.

“Unfortunately I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to sit out of this year’s @XGames,” McMorris wrote on Twitter. “Heartbroken beyond belief but feeling healthy which is most important. Sending good vibes to everyone out in Aspen!”

The 27-year-old is the most decorated Winter X Games athlete of all time. He won his 19th and 20th medals at X Games Norway in 2020 to break fellow snowboarder Shaun White’s previous record. McMorris has won nine X Games gold medals, including his most recent win in Aspen, a slopestyle gold in 2019. He’s also a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in slopestyle.

According to an ESPN report, McMorris tested positive on Friday upon returning home from the Laax Open in Switzerland, the first World Cup slopestyle contest of a competition season already ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, McMorris currently lives in California.

Numerous other athletes, including many Americans, were forced to sit out of the Laax Open because of positive COVID tests or contact tracing, including McMorris. He did, however, compete in the big air World Cup in Austria on Jan. 9, finishing 30th.

All X Games athletes are required to test negative within 72 hours of travel to Aspen per Pitkin County’s affidavit requirement. They are to again be tested every day upon arriving at the Buttermilk venue.

McMorris’s brother, Craig McMorris, is among the on-site play-by-play and analysis team employed by ESPN to cover X Games.

According to the invited athletes list, Mark McMorris has been replaced by Chris Corning in the men’s big air snowboard contest. Corning, a Colorado native, spent a couple of years training with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. This will be his fourth X Games Aspen appearance. His lone X Games medal is a big air bronze in Norway 2018.

Because of the pandemic, this year’s X Games — the 20th consecutive year it has been hosted by Buttermilk — will be held without spectators.

Mark McMorris competes in a past X Games Aspen contest. (Aspen Times file photo)