2020 Pinkbike Awards: Comeback of the Year Winner

Dec 30, 2020
by Sarah Moore  

Comeback of the Year Winner

When someone is coming back from an injury, even if they've won a World Cup before, they once again become an underdog. In 2019, Tahnee Seagrave, and Jolanda Neff, and Brook Macdonald were all favourites coming into the season. After potentially career-altering incidents ahead of the 2020 season however, it was a little less clear about how they would be able to perform this year and made an unpredictable season even harder to predict.

While we were impressed with all three riders' return to form, the 2020 Comeback of the Year award goes to...

Why he's the winner
While it's extra sweet when the comeback has a fairy tale gold-medal ending, we think a return to the race course after what was very close to being a career-ending injury for Brook Macdonald is more than worthy of this year's Comeback of the Year award.

Brook Macdonald crashed on the final training day ahead of the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Championships on August 31, 2019 and had to be evacuated off the mountain with a spinal injury. He said of the event later that, "It was 5 hours until I got off the hill and it was the worst day of my life." Subsequently, we learned that Brook had broken two vertebrae in the crash and doctors had to stabilize the spine with eight screws and two rods.


The damage from shattered vertebrae intruding on his spinal cord meant starting from absolute scratch in the recovery process; relearning the most basic motor skills to literally put one foot in front of the other after forgetting how. In October 2019, Brook was back riding his bike for the first time, but he was still many, many hours of rehab away from mountain bike racing on the international scene.

Nathan Hughes caught up with Brook in September, one year after his life-altering crash and put together an emotional Photo Epic.

bigquotesI rode my bike 5 weeks after surgery... it was amazing I could ride better than I could walk. It was very difficult to turn the pedals over because I still obviously had numb feeling in my legs and feet so I really couldn't feel the pedals, but it honestly felt so natural to be riding my bike again. From there it gave me so much more confidence that I was going to be able to race again...Brook Macdonald

A year after he re-learned how to walk and rode his bike for the first time post-injury, he competed in the DH race at Crankworx Innsbruck, placing an impressive 11th. From there, he raced at the World Championships in Leogang, where a hard crash onto his back had us all momentarily terrified, before finishing 39th and 23rd in Maribor.

From re-learning to walk, to top 25 at a World Cup DH race, the Bulldog is the 2020 Comeback of the Year winner.

bigquotesI honestly have a new love for riding my bike. From what I've been through and experienced it's really made me appreciate life a lot more and realising how quickly it can be taken from youBrook Macdonald


Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,197 articles

  • 101 0
 Absolutely deserved and inspiration to all of us that have had bad wrecks and setbacks.
  • 45 0
 I heard that Pinkbike put everyone else together as a single entry and Brook still won. Legend.
  • 21 0
 This is what I think everyone should read. Specifically at the last days of this f***ing year. Stories about healing, comebacks, recovery, coming thru. Well done. Very deserved.
  • 15 0
 It’s hard to fathom how he has done what he has done. Well deserved.
  • 11 3
 Balls of steel. I would guess after that, probably high 90s% of people would think racing again would be too big of a risk. A moderate trail ride maybe. Nothing serious. What an inspiration he is.
  • 11 1
 Brook's nomination for this is easily the most justly thing to happen this year
  • 6 0
 It's amazing at any level after a crash your mind tries to save you from doing it again then you have to hit the override button. Risk vs. reward. Thanks Brook for being an inspiration to us all. Love life and the invention one of mans most noble creations...THE BIKE!!
  • 3 0
 YES! Was both stunned and so happy to see the level he was riding at again after such a catastrophic injury! What a warrior as I can't even fathom the frustration, pain and work he put in to not necessarily recover but to adapt and grow from the place that injury left him. Inspiration there for anyone looking to build from broken places.
  • 8 1
  • 2 0
 Love Brook and I cheered at my TV when he made his return this year but didn't Jolanda almost die? That gives her the extra points for the win in my book. If im mistaken, my apologies.
  • 1 0
 First - amazing comeback. Just so great to see and it is truly inspiring. Following his recovery on IG through to this recognition is more than heartening.

That said...Holy shit, listening to Brook talk through the day is horrifying. My son and I were there that day though not trackside we heard about the incident and heard the helicopter but had no idea how bad things were. Did UCI improve their planning/handling of serious injuries after this? 5 f'ing hours on the hill? Closed helipad? wtf? Maybe have a doc with some f'ing real pain meds on the mountain? If I were Brook or any other athlete I'd be demanding a real plan before getting back on the track. Hope they did.
  • 4 0
 What a come back, a true inspiration to any rider.
  • 4 0
 incredible comeback! and an incredible mind to achieve it!
  • 1 0
 Well deserved bro ! You are the strongest willed person , the determination to get back on the bike after such a massive accident is amazing , your the man brother ????????????????
And credit to Lucy too ????????
  • 4 0
  • 4 0
 Heroic, truly heroic.
  • 4 0
 Well deserved
  • 4 0
  • 4 0
 What a guy.
  • 4 2
 Such and incredible rider.
  • 3 0
  • 1 0
 Brendog wa... no wait! Brook is absolutely the most deserving winner of this award. Justice is served.
  • 3 0
 Real life superhero
  • 1 0
 Yesssssss!! Brook is an inspiration of determination and grit for all of us! #beastmacdonald
  • 1 0
 The blokes an animal! Well deserved!!!!
  • 1 0
 Yes Brook! So well deserved. It has been incredible watching his progress.
  • 1 0
 Dam emoji turned to question marks ....
  • 1 0
 I hope he pedals on for the rest of his life.
  • 1 0
 F@#kin animal, gets paralyzed and basically walks off, so legendary!
  • 1 0

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