Lukas Weilenmann Breaks 9 Vertebrae in Triple Flip Attempt

Sep 14, 2020
by Sarah Moore  

Lukas Weilenmann took to the Big Air jump to try a world first triple backflip to dirt at Audi Nines. Lukas landed perfectly when he hit the jump with the airbag and then took it to dirt. Lukas landed on the downslope on his first attempt but he slid out towards the end which you can see in the above video.

On his next attempt however, he crashed, breaking 9 vertebrae. We wish him the best of luck with his recovery.

bigquotestrippleflip try to dirt! Actually can't belive I crashed on this one????

Injury Update: I broke 9 vertebraes wich sounds super bad, I know, but I won't need surgery and I wont be paralyzed! I can already sit and enjoy my breakfast. It will take me some time, till I am back to where I was yesterday before the crash but I cant wait to master this challenge and be back stronger and better than ever!

Thanks for all the support and nice messages!
Lukas Weilenmann


  • 84 1
 The freestyle moto boys had this same 'learning curve', big jumps = big injuries and things were progressing in moto to the point of death if the tricks were not landed. But Pastrana and co just kept pushing this content, but hate seeing arms race of bigger and more sketchy jumps...
  • 9 1
 now in Freestyle MX they use some sort of damping material on landings (not air bags)
  • 8 0
 @ddbiked: yeah, the big resi ramps help! Back in the day they had short wood landing ramps in concrete parking lots...ouch
  • 75 3
 This here. I wouldn’t mind a shift to style over numbers. I actually prefer watching someone like Thomas Genon over Rogatkin, but it’s just the way the sport is being pushed. Would be great to pair back the size, rotations, relax a bit and go back to basics.
  • 47 21
 No one forced him to push himself. What seems like natural progression to these beasts seems unpalatable to normal humans. Its OK if you don't understand their mindset but stop knocking them for it. Its what they want to do and I'm happy they exist otherwise all action sports wouldn't be anywhere near where they are now.
  • 2 0
 Yeah, I just do street/jib stuff, and small jumps, and wear safety gear. My friend got brain damage in grade 11 high school.
  • 8 1
 @vp27: I prefer he Emil cause he has both!
  • 2 16
flag waldo-jpg (Sep 14, 2020 at 22:02) (Below Threshold)
 @CAshredder: but all he ever does is whips and bars, boooring.
  • 23 3
 "Progression" is subjective. While I'm impressed by big stunts, I see them as just that, Evel Knievel send-it-and-hope-it-lands stunts. I have yet to see a double flip that looks unique to the rider doing it. I respect anyone that does it, and of course the triple flip too, but I don't enjoy seeing it the way I enjoy seeing someone do a super tucked graceful nose dive 360, or 360 tailwhip to invert. You might think those tricks are way back in what your idea of a made up linear progression timeline is, but there aren't that many that can make them look like a unique 3 second moving sculpture through the air. It's that unique moment in time that I enjoy witnessing. Of course there are contests that give more weight to style, but they usually have to cater to an audience with a surface level appreciation for riding where a binary "rider achieves x number of flips, spins, or whips" is what's easy to understand and deserving of reward. I think it's up to every event to educate their audience on the subtlety of individual expression, and that the skill displayed in a seemingly simple trick can potentially be equal to, or beyond one where they're counting how many times the rider rotates around.
  • 2 0
 @mecabeat: well said, style over substance, hard to measure, always subjective but at the core it's what keeps me watching and what I look for.
  • 4 0
 @scott-townes: not knocking it, just prefer to see these dudes healthy and safe and dont need to see triple flips or monster gaps to get stoked. Lots of moto guys dropped out of the freestyle scene once the tricks started going upside down due to the danger, which is a shame, lots of stylish riders out there that I loved watching that were not doing flips.

Mad respect to these guys, but personally, get way more stoked watching the whip offs at Crab Apple...
  • 4 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I'm not sure if you meant it that way but "style over substance" bothers me a bit because what I was saying is that to me style IS substance. It doesn't mean that there can't be multiple spins and whips involved, it's that I can see the expression within that moment in the air. The expression that comes from the other branch of the tree of progression, where the rider is not only performing the tricks, but comfortable and skilled enough to make those tricks uniquely theirs. Like a signature that's being written across the arc from lip to landing.
  • 3 0
 @mecabeat: in my pea brain style = expression, how it looks, how it makes you feel as a viewer, graceful, aggressive, fluid or easy, pick your poison. Substance, how I define it at least, is judging solely on quantitative measure, 3 flips is better than 2, etc.

I prefer the art of the trick more than the act of the trick...
  • 1 0
 @mecabeat: Spot on!
  • 1 0
 @vp27: Yup, slow stylish 360s still take the cake in my book.
  • 34 0
 I don't know that'd I'd be feeling so chirpy after breaking 9 vertebrae so fair play for that attitude
  • 49 0
 I think its not THAT he broke 9 vertibre, its that be broke them and isn't paralyzed. Thats the real stoke. The injury sucks... but could have been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay worse.
  • 7 6
 @jomacba: judging by how he landed I'm guessing he broke transverse process, the outer part of vert, which I dont think effects spinal nerves...but I agree anything that big could have been WAY worse!
  • 3 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I was thinking the same thing. The shitty part is that's what the muscles attach to, and it will still affect him the rest of his life. Just glad he didnt get hurt worse...
  • 15 1
 @RadBartTaylor: You could be right, but I don't believe that clip was the one showing the crash responsible. I believe that was done on the next attempt. Regardless, of how or if that is the case, that triple flip was badass!!!
  • 14 0
 The clip above shows the attempt *before* his crash. It’s in the text.
  • 8 1
 There are many varieties of vertebral fractures. "Broke 9 vertebrae" is only a tiny bit more specific than "he hurt himself" when you consider the huge spectrum of fractures and the difference in recovery/outcome from each.
  • 3 3
 @DrPete: While I agree with you in terms of your point referencing how vague the injury truly is, I don't however think its worth getting into semantics. The thing is this, this could have gone either way. The injury could have been much worse, and he could be paralyzed.... OR... He could have sustained no injury whatsoever.
This is a simple situation of "It is what it is".
Facts: 9 fractured vertibre, no paralysis, or other significant injuries, and one badass attempt at a triple backflip.
Lets not turn this into an episode of law and order, special victims unit.
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: yes, it could’ve been much worse, and with some spine fractures there’s a risk of paralysis. Not getting into semantics, just that there are scenarios where you can “break” vertebrae with zero risk of paralysis or anything. Yes, he was fortunate.
  • 1 0
 @DrPete: I had always wondered about this until a bud broke his back on a trail crash, he walked out and didn't have horrible pain, I learned a thing or two about what it means and how different the different breaks can be
  • 2 0
 This is why reading the article and not just watching the video is very important
  • 21 0
 Lukas was such a friendly, good natured guy when I met him at the Eurobike Jump Jam...and he was sending it!! Healing vibes to him!
  • 1 3
 he still is ???? great you mentioned that side of him!
  • 1 0
 Hmmm... sorry about the question marks, should have been "!!!" ???? just because he really is a nice guy...
  • 26 12
 Fucking hell man how long till every sport is just spin to win and runners up frequently die trying. I feel we should pump the brakes on progress. A bit.
  • 25 9
 Chess looks interesting, doesn't it?
  • 15 3
 nope, that's what some runners up want to do (and shine eventually) and you're not entitled to take it from them...
  • 10 15
flag noplacelikeloam (Sep 14, 2020 at 15:25) (Below Threshold)
 Luckily MTB is more than DJ. PB shows more of this stuff than most but its not where the heart of MTB is, thankfully.
  • 4 0
 Was a push in skiing back in the day towards style over spins/flips. This benefited some big name sponsored athletes imho at the expense of others. Some cool tricks and new athletes missed the boat so we could see one more mute grab 3. I dunno if that’s better or worse than seeing 1440s a year or two earlier...
  • 7 1
 You act like there are competitive athletes dropping dead everyday... Death and extremely serious injury is still quite rare.
  • 3 1
 @shredjekyll: as a casual observer the severity of injuries seems to be increasing, both in DH and slopestyle. Pretty easy to see why.
  • 7 0
 Road biking is way deadlier .but their videos aren’t as fun to watch @shredjekyll:
  • 10 0
 I broke 5 of them last November. Was back riding trail in 9 weeks. Recovery is mostly pain management and trying not to get hooked on the Dilauded/morphine/gabapentin/methocarbamol cocktail they had me on. No long term effects. I’m shredding just as mediocre as ever.
  • 2 0
 Hydromorph is my favourite thing ever.
  • 9 1
 Imagine being his doctor.

"OK, you're extremely lucky. You broke 9 vertebrae but you narrowly avoided being paralysis or being a paraplegic for life."

"So you're saying I can try again next week?"
  • 8 0
 Meh I broke the tip of my elbow off biking. Had a great surgeon and the next day when I talked with him the next day I went out of my way to mention that I knew the risks from mountain biking were kind of dumb. He just shrugged his shoulders and said "well you can't exactly spend the rest of your life sitting on the couch." I really appreciated that.
  • 5 1
 Prior to this COVID thing. The biggest killer in Britain was inactivity. So the couch ain’t that safe either @friendlyfoe:
  • 12 5
 Really blurring the lines between tough as nails and dumb as shit. (I admire anyone who pushes any limits)

Good effort! Heal fast fast and I can tell you'll get redemption.
  • 1 5
flag skelldify (Sep 14, 2020 at 15:39) (Below Threshold)
 It’s great entertainment either way!
  • 3 0
 What I didn’t catch until I reread this. The clip above is NOT the one he broke his back on. The next one he attempted after this is.
  • 3 0
 I missed that first read and was wondering how he casually jogged away with 9 brown vertebrae.
  • 1 0
 All the best for a speedy recovery! I really like the big tricks and progression... BUT, I would actually like slopestyle to include more new and challenging obstacles than just jumps that are too big for mere mortals. Think about the way Vans builds skateparks that are open to the public after the competition and can be reused later for additional competitions like amateur level comps. Obviously the course would be refreshed for competitions and could possibly have a few safety points added for general public use, but I think it would expand the market and number of annual competitions so you could have many more options for new blood to join the ranks.
  • 2 0
 You get so used to these guys being good, you forget how much they're risking. One bad crash could change or take your life.
  • 1 1
 I'd always prefer progression in style when it comes to this sport rather than pure quantity. For me, this is not only more enjoyable to watch - a nicely executed back flip looks much better to me than a double backflip. But also it reduces the risk for athletes who risk their health and career.
  • 1 0
 Wow the crazy thing is, he actually over flipped the triple backflip... hope he has a speedy recovery, he seems to be in high spirits
  • 2 0
 I know how he feels, I broke 7 vertebrae 9 months ago. Just happy I can walk and be normal( or as normal as I get)
  • 1 0
 Damn, my english isn't so good... He broke 9 vertebraeS or the 9th vertebrae??
(En español seria: Se quebró 9 vertebras o la 9na vertebra?)
  • 3 0
 Plural, 9 different ones. :-(
  • 1 1
 @norcal101: Oh shit... Thanks!
  • 2 0
 Audi nines! Seriously though heal up man. And everyone be as safe as possible.
  • 2 0
 Don’t be stupid. The possible injuries is not worth it. When you complete the trick no body will care.
  • 2 0
 Hell fire. All the best for a speedy recovery.
  • 2 0
 How not paralyzed????? unbeliable luck... really.... amazuing work lyuca
  • 1 0
 Kind of a surprise injury considering he had chest/ back protection and landed on soft dirt. Still a worthy knock down tho.
  • 1 0
 He actually landed that pretty well all considering. Nice tuck and roll crash. I suppose the body has it's limits. Gnarly.
  • 2 0
  • 2 1
 One word.... well sorta two... BADASS!!!!!
  • 1 0
 All the best man! Get well soon.
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 Merely a flesh wound, you're an animal!
  • 1 1
 Props to him. And glad he's walking
Hoping for more tricks that look like "something else" not something more of the same
  • 1 0
 Rest & recover. You’re a lucky man. Best wishes
  • 1 0
 Dayyyyum... heal up well brother!! Glad you’re not seriously wrecked!
  • 1 0
 Ouch ! Big injury, indeed... Wishing you a good recovery.
  • 1 2
 I heard that Audi Nines is switching to a safer format next year where guys compete to smoke the most crack and then stylishly chop their d—ks off.
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 No thx, guy has bigger balls then brains.
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