We're all very aware that crashing is just part of the game, and that's especially true when you're at the pointy end of the performance spectrum. Just ask Jesse Melamed, Myriam Nicole, and Gee Atherton, all of whom had their own impressive comebacks from injury in 2018. But our winner didn't get hurt while racing at obscene speeds, and despite him being one of the top slope competitors out there, his own comeback didn't begin with him getting up from hitting the deck hard while spinning and flipping.
Our 2018 Comeback of the Year award goes to a very deserving Emil Johansson.
Last year saw Emil Johansson take land on four FMB Diamond event podiums, a run that also saw him be the youngest ever overall champion, beating well-known veterans like Rheeder or Semenuk. The immediate future looked pretty bright for Emil, but that's when he got hit with one of life's curveballs. This particular pitch meant that he was dealing with significant pain and issues from his back that was eventually diagnosed as a congenital 6th lumbar vertebrae defect. That's as serious as it sounds, but it was about to get even worse: He was also diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that slowed down his ability to recover and rehab from his back injury.
All told, Emil was on the sidelines for ten months. That's an eternity in the world of slopestyle where it seems like riders are pushing things further and further at every competition, and it makes his 4th place at the 2018 Red Bull Joyride, on the gnarliest course of the year, all the more impressive.