2017 Pinkbike Awards: Comeback of the Year Nominees

Dec 6, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
PB Awards

Comeback of the Year Nominees


Don't call it a comeback. There were no classic fairytale comeback stories that piqued our interest in 2017, but there were three riders who stomped when it mattered after some quiet times.

The closest Bruni came to the top step in 17 months was in his dreams, but then put the power down precisely when in counted in Cairns. Ryan Nyquist proved that old dogs can learn new hucks and in his first full season of enduro racing, Sam Hill took the EWS crown and stood atop the winner's podium.









Why he's nominated:

Loic Bruni has been in the doldrums since his win at Cairns World Cup in the spring of 2016 - relatively speaking. The young French rider who was tipped for greatness has still shown some consistency, but injuries and other factors have prevented him from achieving the overwhelming domination many were hoping for. Laying down a winning run at the World Championships in Cairns and just pipping Mick Hannah's perfection by a few milliseconds came somewhat from nowhere.

Seventeen month's separated his back to back wins on the down-under dustbowl, but could have re-ignited the spark that many have touted to be the next great of this sport.








Why he's nominated:

At 37 years old Nyquist turned his focus to MTB. 34 years of riding, competing and winning BMX competitions fuelled a need for a change. At 38 years old in 2017, Nyquist bagged a 3rd place bronze medal at the infamous Joyride Slopestyle at Crankworx Whistler.

His iconic style can be spotted from miles away, anybody that remembers Miracle Boy and Nyquist will recognize that he has stayed true to his root maneuvers even though he has taken on a wholesale discipline change. To step on to a podium at this level, at his age, at this level of maturity of the slopestyle game, is nothing but outstanding and gives all of all old-boys some hope.








Why he's nominated:

There was a time (between 2005 and 2010) when you could count on Sam Hill thoroughly humbling the competition and owning the race clock. The competition, however, inevitably catches up and though the five-time DH World Champ never stopped being a downhill top 10 contender, he did stop being that one guy you consistently expected atop the podium. And yet here Hill is, in his first full season of racing the Enduro World Series, back on top, as the overall series champion.

That's one hell of a return to form for the 32-year old Aussie.





Downhill retaliation, dirt mastery or enduro domination, who would you choose? - Paul Aston







118 Comments

  • + 359
 Hill, not even close in my opinion.
  • + 101
 they should have just announced Sam as the winner right off the bat
  • + 19
 Sam f 1 ng Hill hands down
  • + 46
 Not going to lie...I thought Hill's career was over. Most impressive comeback by far.
  • + 14
 There is absolutely zero question on this one. Hill wins. Maybe if Nyquist had gone and won a huge series of events, like triple crown of Crankworx. But he didn't, and Sam is ews champion. Can't be any other decision here.
  • + 33
 @ratedgg13: Hill's was huge for sure, but Nyquist bridged a bigger gap. Even if he didn't win. To take a Joyride podium spot at his age and with his history is just insane. I'd probably still vote Hill, but I'd argue it's not that obvious.
  • + 1
 mufo sam.
  • + 7
 Hill's might be the greatest comeback in mtb history.
  • + 13
 dude. watching him sit on the podium for as long he did at cairns after crushing it on an enduro rig too?! awesome.
  • + 15
 ...and no one has even mentioned him coming 6th at worlds on an enduro bike!
  • + 3
 @ratedgg13: and calling a crossover from BMX a comeback is not right I think. The man is a legend and will forever be a inspirational bikerider, but for this category there can really only be one true comeback and that is mister Sam "flat pedal thunder" Hill!
  • + 1
 @BiNARYBiKE: Agreed, as a 37 year old avid rider, it makes my body ache just thinking about training for a joyride event...
  • + 1
 I dunno if its fair to say the competition catches up in Hill's case. The tracks have become arguably less his style and more huge berms and jumps. Now the dude is crushing it on the raw stuff. props.
  • + 113
 I think Nyquist is most impressive. What he has done, at his age, at the level slope guys are competing, is astounding. Love Sam Hill and it's tough call because what he does is very different, and also incredible. But yea, 38, came, saw, conquered. Nyquist is a boss.
  • + 6
 He did not however, compete in a full enduro season as the opening paragraph indicates.
  • + 28
 didn't he land a jump with his bars backwards and then had to figure out which brake to use with his thumb while doing a trick, all without dying? that deserves some kind of recognition outside of his age.
  • + 10
 Kind of have to agree here. So many years ago when he, Hoffman and Mirra got my into biking and BMX. That was so long ago, yet this guy is still relevant. That's impressive.
  • - 4
flag jamesbrant (Dec 6, 2017 at 20:42) (Below Threshold)
 @Triber66: why, is the EWS all that hard?
  • + 62
 D - All of the Above
  • + 5
 ^^^Best answer so far
  • + 39
 Ryan Nyquist out of the nominees but ultimately I believe Miranda Miller should have definitely been nominated, and also for me the winner. If you know her story, that girl has been through hell with her injuries and come out the other side on top of the World.
  • + 12
 Yep, Miranda Definitely needs to be on the list.!!!
  • + 12
 Good point. It's kinda sad how little attention is paid to the female end of racing. Will there be a female rider of the year category?
  • + 2
 @ratedgg13: this ^^^^
  • - 1
 @ratedgg13: women don't ride mtb, silly!
  • + 1
 @jamesbrant: I heard that if a woman rides a bike she can become pregnant
  • + 38
 damn. most deserving nominees of any category yet.
  • + 29
 Hill for the win.
  • + 27
 Minnaars V10 resurrection at VDS in no-time-flat by Jason Marsh. Greatest comeback since Easter Sunday.
  • + 17
 Shouldnt it go to the 29" wheel?
  • + 11
 I can't believe that Gwin doesn't make this list... There was a point in the season, in Lenzerheide where he flatted near the bottom of his run, and it seemed impossible for him to take the overall. He comes back at Mont-Sainte-Anne and has an AMAZING win in the rain and then wins the last one!!!
  • + 0
 yeah but anyone could've seen that coming when you really think about it
  • + 6
 Too many great comeback stories. Good time to be a fan!
  • + 10
 @SlopeStyleDrew: Absolutely not. After Lenzerheide, Gwin was so far back in the points standings that he had to win all 4 remaining sessions (qualifying and finals in MSA, and qualifying and finals in Val Di Sole) in order to clench the overall title, and he did just that, despite a shitload of adversity (e.g. a torrential downpour in MSA).
"When you really think about it", what he did was nothing short of amazing. Then again, we're getting used to that from him, so I guess you're right lol
  • + 2
 Agreed. For me it's a touch call between Gwin's come from behind WC Championship or Hill's career renewing EWS Championship. Two different types of comebacks I guess. Both very cool.
  • + 1
 I wouldn't exactly call Gwin's a comeback though as he's been consistently dominant over the past number of years. While it is true it wasn't the most dominating start to the season, he was still right up there and by anyone else's standards would still be considered in a good place. The three nominated however haven't been at the top for a period of time before their results this year.
  • + 3
 Don't worry, MSA will surely win as race of the year
  • + 1
 @SlopeStyleDrew: If it had been a movie it would have been obvious. I, for one, never had a doubt. I mean, the man is so dedicated he's forsaken gluten for cryin' out loud.

I did enjoy your comment, though.
  • + 10
 How about Miranda Miller? Two broken wrists a couple years back and having people telling her she should retire, another broken wrist at the start of the season and then coming back and winning the World Championships? Incredible story of perceverance and hard work.
  • + 13
 Hill, 6th at worlds on an enduro bike. Clear winner here.
  • + 10
 I'd have to give it to nyquist for making the transition to MTB and doing a damn fine job at it.
  • + 1
 He's such a BOSS he would do really good on a wheelbarrow if he had to Big Grin
  • + 7
 Hill, no question. An entire season at the sharp end of a brutal series, and he won it clean. Don’t forget his Cairns WC performance.
  • + 9
 Miranda Miller?
  • + 2
 Miranda should win breakout performance of the year as she wasn't really considered a contender until she won worlds.
  • + 6
 Why did my mind immediately interpret the title of this award to "Comments Section Comeback of the Year"?
  • + 3
 It says something about Sam Hill but also something about the quality of the EWS field. It is strong but it isn't near the quality of WC downhill. If the top DH guys actually took endurp seripusly rather than a race once in a while, where they struggle for fitness, they would bitz the field. There are a lot of journeyman DHs who are good enduro racers
  • + 1
 You shouldn't get down voted because you tell the truth. I think the problem is that there is a age group of PBers that have man crushes on Sam Hill. And that's okay because I would feel the same way if it were Cedric or Steve Peat crushing the Enduro field.
I wonder what the sponsor paycheck spread is between DH and Enduro?
  • + 2
 @RLEnglish: This. I’m a big Sam Hill fan but it’s getting bieberonedirection ridiculous now. Sam Hill could snot on a napkin on a liaison and you’d get an avalanche of “Sam Effin Hill!” “Sam Hill!” “F* Yeah Sam Hill!”
  • + 3
 Hill slightly over Nyquist. Hill raced on his enduro bike at the DH World Champs and sat on the podium until like 5 riders left a Winning the overall EWS title against a field of guys 5-10 years younger makes his dominance even more impressive. Nyquist was certainly deserving, but podium finishes at Crankworx and other events (no wins) doesn't outweigh Hill's consistent season of wins and top results in multiple disciplines.
  • + 3
 They could introduce a new category here, career switch of the year. Nyquist and Hill got in a different cycling discipline and did very well. Not sure if Caroline Buchanan counts (she has already been picking up championship titles in 4X racing). Either way it is a valid and interesting category. But as for comeback, maybe only Bruni counts but then again, he's not been away for that long has he?
  • + 4
 Mathieu Van Der Poel would be at the top of my list. Him and a couple other riders could make next year's UCI XCO more uncomfortable for Schurter.
  • + 1
 @Pynchonite: I wouldn't say Schurter considers some good competition as uncomfortable. I guess he'd be bored without someone biting his heels. So yeah Mathieu is good for XCO. In fact, I think Mathieu himself is in need of some good competition in CX racing Wink !

Considering the crossover between CX and XC, I'd also be interested in how his fellow countrywoman Annemarie Worst would keep up if she'd do more WC races. She finished last winter as (junior) world champ CX and I think she had a good first few WC XC races.
  • + 2
 I wouldn't say any of them have had comebacks. Loic has just had a bad season, Ryan is doing nothing new, he has just got an adult sized bike to do it on. Sam is the closest but even so its not like he has spent the last few years tending to his garden
  • + 2
 I'm in the middle between Hill and Nyquist. I remember watching Nyquist on the X-Games and winning more than once, and that was a long time ago. To think he's riding again at a no-that-far same level than he used to is something to admire for. Hill on the other hand... he's one of the best riders I've seen but ultimately he jumped into a different category. I wouldn't call that a comeback but more like a rebornish-back. My two cents.
  • + 6
 Hill for the win, no questions.
  • + 2
 Talk about an f-ing great selection of riders. Each one had a unique and respectable comeback. Seeing as Hill did actually win the season overall in a different discipline that's where my vote would go but no disrespect to Bruni or Nyquist.
  • + 2
 Ryan Nyquist. Sam Hill's was incredible feat no doubt but a rider with his credo and experience coming from DH to enduro and winning isn't the most shocking thing. Miranda Miller and Aaaron Gwin should have been nominees.
  • + 5
 Damn, three fantastic choices. Can I for vote all three?
  • + 6
 Myriam Nicole
  • + 2
 She was the first person I thought of
  • + 1
 Hill yeah not expected any less but, throwing some big tricks at joyride when you 36 and ending up on the podium is just impressive. Bruni was just getting back to his form and also very young compared to these two legends
  • + 1
 Not taking anything away from the nominees here. Much respect. Paul Basagoitia and Martyn Ashton keep making massive comebacks from horrific injuries and getting stronger every day.
  • + 3
 Hill wins hands down. "Comeback", that is it.

Love that Nyquist is killing in MTB, but he never left to come back.
  • + 0
 I would give it to Ryan off the bat and then I am not sure about Bruni. However it seems (led by pinkbike or following the marketing trend) that really if its not enduro its not mountain biking. I am sure half the readers of this article dont know who Nyquist or Bruni are, and are only familiar with Hill from his ews time. I miss mountain biking.
  • + 1
 Hill for 1st, world domination tour 2017. Nyquist a close second, much respect. Come on Loic, get consistent, some have figured it out, I'm rooting for you....
  • + 1
 although not an enduro fan, I think Sam Hill should get this one because slope style is NOT mountain biking and the world championships is JUST another DH race. Peace.
  • + 1
 Peace? Ok...
  • + 6
 Americans should not be allowed to use the word Peace. We obviously misunderstand the concept completely, as noted above.
  • + 1
 Let's see. Not an eduro fan, slope is not MTB, and DH is mundane. Is there anything related to mountain biking that you do like? Spandex? Or maybe just Pinkbike trolling? Wink
  • + 1
 @BiNARYBiKE: never said DH was mundane, just that world champs are just another DH race. I follow XC and DH every year but, no, slopestyle is not Mountain biking. Not sure how I’m trolling as I only offered an honest opinion, so, please explain.

As to my use of the word “peace,” I knew there would be a few ass clowns like yourself and binarybike who would take some sort of silly offense to what I posted.
  • + 1
 @CaliCol: sounds like you’re the one taking offense! I was just poking some fun at how you sounded like you don’t really like any facet of mountain biking. Let’s meet on some common ground; I agree that the concept of world champs is completely silly. It is just another race. Should just be the series finale.
  • + 1
 @BiNARYBiKE: fair enough, cheers!
  • + 3
 Sam Hill FTW! It's not even up for debate.
  • + 1
 @donkey-feltcher
I nearly spat my cawfee from my squiggly straw...
Wink
  • + 1
 Got to be Sam Hill - amazing season. And that 6th place on Mega at the World Champs was brilliant.
  • + 2
 Hill! no question about it.
  • + 3
 Sam F_cking Hill!!
  • + 1
 Matt Macduff for the come back. Flies out of a 40ft loop and is getting back on the bike.
  • + 1
 Sam Hill for sure! This is not even a contest: the award should be for him for Pete's sake!
  • + 2
 God save the king!!! Sam hill for medals!!!
  • + 2
 Flat pedals have made quite the comeback recently, for some reason..
  • + 0
 Why wasn't Gwin nominated. He had a shit start to the season, then came back from a pretty big deficit to take the championsip
  • + 2
 Who won the overall World Cup last year? Not much of a comeback from the top step of the podium to the top step of the podium. Granted, it wasn't easy, but hardly qualifies as a comeback in the larger sense of the word.
  • + 2
 All 3 deserve to win! Each one is hugely impressive in their own right!
  • + 1
 Pinkbike commenters: Enduro sucks

Also Pinkbike commenters: SAM F'KIN HILL WOO!
  • + 2
 Sam Hill!!
  • + 2
 KURT SORGE
  • + 1
 How is Myriam Nicole not on this list!?!? Come on PB.
  • + 1
 just wait for female athlete of the year
  • + 1
 @kjjohnson: yeah but still, hell of a comeback
  • + 1
 Of course Ryan Nyqvist!!! Old sea wolf!!!
  • + 1
 Sam Hill - m.youtube.com/watch?v=vimZj8HW0Kg

Maybe? Just sayin
  • + 1
 Nyquist or Hill??

I can't decide!!
  • + 2
 Hill... enough said
  • + 2
 Sam Hill, no doubt
  • + 2
 Hill.
  • + 1
 Nyquist takes my vote
  • + 1
 kurt sorge
  • + 1
 Ryan by a landslide
  • + 1
 Specialized team
  • + 1
 Love me some Sam Hill!
  • + 0
 Props to em all but no question it’s gotta be Hill.
  • + 1
 Shark Attack Jack
  • + 1
 He did have a great season... Not quite the caliber of the others nominated, but pretty great. And definitely the BEST comeback from someone bitten by a shark (on two different occasions, I believe).
  • + 1
 HILLLLLL!!!
  • + 0
 Troy Brosnan? That guy had THE SEASON!
  • + 1
 NYQUIST because RAD!!
  • + 1
 Nyquist for sure.
  • + 1
 nyquist all day
  • + 1
 Hill
  • + 1
 Lopes' punch.
  • + 1
 SAM!!!!
  • + 0
 Still no Ellsworth or Orange ?? Ffs pinkbike sort it out
  • + 0
 Matt Macduff??
  • - 1
 Dirt Mastery FTW

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