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Months after near-death crash, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris wins Olympic medal

Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris won bronze in Pyeongchang on Sunday. He cheated death to get there.

by Scott Stump / / Source: TODAY

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Eleven months ago, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris spent two days in a medically-induced coma with 17 broken bones, a collapsed lung and a ruptured spleen.

That turned out to be just the beginning of a comeback story that even McMorris has called a miracle.

McMorris, 24, ended Sunday by standing on the podium in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a bronze medal draped around his neck, and an even bigger appreciation for the opportunity just to be there.

"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."

McMorris earned the second Olympic medal of his career by finishing third in the men's slopestyle competition on a frigid and windy day. He took bronze in the same event at the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

Just eleven months ago, the Olympics seemed like a long shot after the Saskatchewan native was nearly killed in a violent accident.

McMorris was snowboarding with friends in remote backcountry British Columbia in March when he crashed into a tree. He suffered a broken jaw, a collapsed left lung and a fractured left arm, among other serious injuries.

He spent the next several months slowly rehabbing and working his way back to good health.

"I will never take another day on this earth for granted,'' he wrote on Instagram in April.

McMorris was true to his word. In November, he won a Big Air World Cup event in Beijing. A month later, he won bronze at the Winter X Games, stamping him as a medal favorite heading into Pyeongchang.

"I probably shouldn't be here," McMorris told The Associated Press. "I need to pinch myself a little bit."

His amazing comeback has inspired his home nation, including prime minster Justin Trudeau.

On Sunday, McMorris was briefly in first place before ultimately finishing third behind countryman Max Parrot and 17-year-old American Red Gerard, who won gold.

It may not have been the top spot for McMorris, but just being on the podium was more than he could have envisioned last year.

"At the time, I wish it hadn't happened, but now it's so cool that so many people have reached out and said, 'You've helped me through this part of my life' or motivated me or whatever it may be," he told ESPN.

He added, "Being able to inspire others is better than any medal."

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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