With 15 X Games medals, four U.S. Open titles, and two Olympic bronzes to his name, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris stands atop the proverbial mountain in his sport.
McMorris, 25, is in Aspen, Colo., for the 2019 Winter X Games this weekend, where he’s competing in three events: Air, Slopestyle, and Knuckle Huck. Naturally, it’s taken a lot of preparation, discipline, and guts to get him where he is today. He’s done tricks that were previously deemed impossible, becoming the first person to land a backside triple cork 1440 in 2011. He’s won double gold at the same Winter X Games event in both Slopestyle and Big Air, and landed the first triple in X Games history in 2018. Not to mention that he won a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics just 11 months after surviving a snowboarding accident that left him with near-fatal internal injuries. But in addition to his intense drive and dedication, McMorris recognizes that hip-hop has also played a key role in his success.
“From an early age, I was interested in skateboarding, snowboarding, and action sports for that matter. Hip-hop was always part of the soundtracks of the films I would watch,” he tells EW, sharing the playlist he created (below) to get him ready for the X Games. “The originality and creativity of the music are what draws me to it. It’s great pump-up music and gets me stoked to ride.”
He adds, “I enjoy hip-hop because of the sort of exaggerated creativity of the music. There are so many stories told in hip-hop music, and I’m fascinated with the artist and their reality when they were writing the songs.”
Listening to the playlist, it’s also apparent that McMorris’ definition of “pump-up music” is different than what one might expect. It’s more mellow and does indeed focus more on the stories told through the lyrics, as opposed to raw energy or volume.
You can catch Mark and the rest of the competitors in this year’s Winter X Games now through Sunday, Jan. 27. ESPN and ABC will provide TV coverage, with live streaming options available through WatchESPN and the X Games’ official YouTube channel. Check out XGames.com for the full schedule of events.