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Sunday, July 31, 2011
Updated: August 4, 4:14 PM ET
Behind Brain Farm: Mark McMorris


I'm going to fan out for a minute. To be clear: this isn't a profile, it's a completely biased opinion piece. A lot of the kids coming up in snowboarding right now are making me really excited about the future of our culture and sport. And at the top of the list of my favorite new jack hustlers is the triple cork wunderkind, 17-year-old Mark McMorris.

If we were on Wall Street, at the beginning of the winter McMorris would have been Apple stock, right before they invented the iPod. The analogy is this: to buy stock in Apple back in the day would have been an emotional purchase, made simply because you loved the sleek design and functionality of your Mac. People who base their investment decisions on numbers probably wouldn't have understood your decision at the time. But they sure would get it later, wouldn't they?

Still aren't following me? You will when the first Winter Olympic Snowboard Slopestyle event rolls around. I'm telling you, don't wait until a precious medal raises the value on McMorris stock. The time to buy in is right now.

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Not a lot of 17 year olds get an invitation to film with Travis Rice during their first serious year on the pro snowboard scene.

McMorris was invited to the first Air & Style in Beijing this past December as an alternate. No one pulled out of the contest, so he never got to officially compete. But it was clear to a lot of us watching him hit the big air jump from the ground that he probably would have made the podium if he'd been allowed to enter.

I didn't even know his name then. He was just "that kid with the double cork nose grab." I think I heard he was from Canada? By the end of his last run at the Winter Dew Tour stop three weeks later (where he placed second), I could spell McMorris without having to double check that I'd gotten the double "r" and single "s" right. By the end of the O'Neill Evolution, I had strong opinions about his second-place run score. (It should have been higher.) Come Winter X time I was telling anyone who would listen that he and fellow Canadian Seb Toutant were the future, and was outwardly smug when they went on to get Slopesyle silver and gold, respectively.

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Just because he can do a triple cork, doesn't mean he wants to throw one in your competition. Understand?

You will read this here on ESPN and assume that the reason a growing number of people in the snowboarding peanut gallery are fired up about McMorris is because he is proving to be a contest "winner." But that assumption would be dead wrong. People get excited about McMorris because he has what the French would call a certain je ne sais quoi. Or, to put it in snowboard vernacular: he has rad style. It's just a pleasure to watch. And it turns out, he has a personality to match.

Going into the Art of Flight shoot at Aspen, I was a little worried that the pressure of having to perform a triple cork on command for one of the world's most demanding film directors was going to be a little too much for the young gun to handle. McMorris was unfazed. It was impressive. Expect good things from this one. He's definitely just getting started.