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
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.