Video: Emil Johansson Continues to Battle Autoimmune Disease in 'Every Mystery I've Lived: The Next Chapter'

Feb 27, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

bigquotesStill battling to keep on top of his autoimmune disease, we tap into the mindset of MTB slopestyle champion Emil Johansson as he prepares to regain his title in 2020.Red Bull Bike

With only 9 days to go until the kick-off of the 2020 Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship season in Rotorua, New Zealand, Swedish Slopestyle magician Emil Johansson is getting ready to show the world he belongs at the top of the sport and is ready to back up his winning performance from Red Bull Joyride. Flashback to one year ago, Rotorua was meant to be Emil’s return to the SWC scene, but a severe crash in practice delayed that return until Crankworx Innsbruck. In the extremely successful “Every Mystery I’ve Lived” documentary, fans were able to follow Emil on his road to recovery. “EMIL: The Next Chapter” shows what has happened since then – the good, the bad and the ugly:

EMIL - Every Mystery I've Lived: The Next Chapter

 Red Bull Content Pool

In 2017, during an interview at Red Bull Joyride, Slopestyle legend Brandon Semenuk said that Emil would be “the next unstoppable dude on the circuit.” Two years later, at the same contest, the young Swede became the second-ever European to win the illustrious title of Red Bull Joyride Champion, beating out riders like Brett Rheeder (CAN), Dawid Godziek (POL) and Nicholi Rogatkin (USA), ending his comeback season on a serious high note.

Emil Johansson practices at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler British Columbia Canada on 17 August 2019. Paris Gore Red Bull Content Pool
Brett Rheeder L Canada Emil Johansson C Sweden and Dawid Godziek R Poland celebrate on the podium at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler Canada on August 17 2019 Scott Serfas Red Bull Content Pool

Photo by Richard Bos rasoulution
Photo by Richard Bos rasoulution

bigquotesDuring the summer of that season, I managed to get back to where I wanted to be and finishing the season off better than it started just felt amazing.Emil

Emil Johansson performs during Slopestyle training at Crankworx in Rotorua New Zealand on March 21 2019 Graeme Murray Red Bull Content Pool

Emil Johansson competing in the Crankworx Slopestyle event in Innsbruck Austria on June 16th 2019. Saskia Dugon Red Bull Content Pool

With the 2020 season about to kick off, it’s been a long road for the Swede. Diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and working through back injuries, 2018 and 2019 were formative years for the young phenom, both physically and mentally.

Emil Johansson performs during Slopestyle training at Crankworx in Rotorua New Zealand on March 21 2019 Graeme Murray Red Bull Content Pool

bigquotesBefore I got diagnosed, I didn’t know what was going on. Why is this happening to me, over and over again? Why am I getting sick and why I am feeling miserable,” adding that “it’s really hard for me to stay healthy while training hard and it’s tough mentally to be comfortable with taking a step back, thinking about the future, rather than just riding flat out all the time.Emil

Emil Johansson prepares to practice at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler British Columbia Canada on 17 August 2019. Paris Gore Red Bull Content Pool

The Swede is coming into the 2020 season with his head held high and he’s ready to show the world what he’s been working on.

Emil Johansson performs at Red Bull Joyride in Whistler Canada on August 17 2019 Scott Serfas Red Bull Content Pool

bigquotesI’ve been riding lots in the off season and been enjoying having some time off from travelling and really being able to focus on staying healthy and getting ready for the season.Emil
bigquotesBut without the never-ending support of my physicians Dr. Bachmann and Dr. Jacob, as well as my trainer Lenz Westner, I probably would not be back at where I am today. So thanks a lot to these guys!Emil

 RichardBos rasoulution

EMIL: The Next Chapter, which is now on Red Bull TV, follows Emil from when we saw him last: battling an auto-immune disease, rehab and his road back to the top of the Slopestyle world - and dives into everything that Emil’s been through, both the physical and the mental battle.

Watch Emil Johansson compete at the Slopestyle World Championship at Crankworx Rotorua LIVE and on-demand on Red Bull TV!

Follow Emil’s adventures here:

Photos by ©Richard Bos/rasoulution; Saskia Dugon, Graeme Murray, Paris Gore, Scott Serfas / Red Bull Content Poo​​​​​​l


  • 52 0
 Discovered I have an autoimmune disease called anklyosing spondylitis. Basically arthritis. It took 2 years of feeling like an old man to find out what it was, and right before I bought a cane at age 25 I moved to Kamloops and started taking Humira. That changed my life back to normal. Now starting my 3rd season in Kamloops I am not only caught up to where I left off in trials but am much farther ahead in MTB riding as well. Autoimmune stuff really hits you hard but I can be overcome. tup
  • 26 0
 It makes me so so so happy to hear that you are able to ride bikes and enjoy your life again! I have been fighting with Ankylosing Spondylitis for around 2 years now and it has been one of the toughest things I've encountered in life, Im 22 and some days I literally need help standing up and walking. havent been able to mountain bike in over a year and had to switch hobbies for awhile. Gives me hope that I will overcome this after reading your return to MTB. All the best Smile
  • 9 0
 I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was 13. Started riding a year later, The only time I wasn’t thinking about my back pain was on my bike. Make the world of difference. Nice to know There’s others who know how it goes!
  • 6 0
 I'm also in the AS club... Tried Humira, but on Simponi now. The stuff is a live changer. Without it I can't ride.
  • 7 0
 +100 Autoimmune stuff really hits you hard but I can be overcome. +100Humira "lchanged my life" being on HUMIRA makes me feel like I can do anything now compared to the constant pain and fatigue I felt for years. A friend said "you look like you have a new lease on life for you". 48 this year and have had Ankylosing Spondylitis since 21. Keep riding!!
  • 8 0
 @Tannerstolt: also in the AS club. Diagnosed 32 years ago and still riding. Don't let it define you, there's no reason why you should do anything differently. Stay positive and keep riding. Unlike a lot of chronic illnesses the more exercise you can do the more you will feel better for it.
  • 3 0
 Do you guys get other stuff like uveitis? Gotta watch out for that (no pun intended) to look after your eye sight.
  • 2 0
 I'm another on the Humira has been awesome bandwagon, my knees used to struggle with the strain and pain of riding uphill on tarmac. My hip didn't like riding either. Just before I was diagnosed at 24 I was struggling to put on my socks in the morning and walk up stairs. 13 years later it hardly affects my riding.
  • 4 0
 @Otago: raises hand. Although my most recent diagnosis has been changed to scleritis. Been managing to reduce episodes by a non-dairy, gluten-free diet though. Nice to know there are other riders dealing with this stuff, we should start a support group or something.

Joking... but not joking.
  • 4 0
 @moynie: Oh man, I remember being so frustrated with myself first thing in the morning - struggling with *socks!* That was the worst thing about it; how it ruined everyday before I even got dressed.
  • 2 0
 Same boat, AS can be a bitch, at 19yo 8 years ago I went from 100% to 10%... stopped competition and eventually all sports. It got worst but after a couple years, when finally diagnosed, I decided to get back in action using exercises and stretching. Moving is the key, decided not to take any TNF blockers (humira etc) as they can lower the ability of the immune system to fight infections. Instead went back to moderate sports and slowly came back, episodes getting shorter and less severe. I have now been living in whistler for the past 2 years riding or skiing 5days/week. Don’t let it impact your motivation, get moving!! Start small and work your way back up, FORZA!
PS: depending on what’s affected, would recommend avoiding high direct impact physical activities (running, jumping...)
  • 22 0
 It's crazy to read all the stuff you guys have been going through & is going through right now. I wish you all the best with your fight against you disease. It sure is not easy at times, I know that... diet has been one of the biggest helps for me tho. Trying to eat as clean as possible, AIP Protocol / Paleo was the only thing working for me for a while. Now I am able to switch to a more free diet as my system is doing some what better than in the past but I am still avoiding anything inflammatory for my system.
Keep Pushing!!!
  • 2 0
 @emiljohansson: You all legends guys, you all got this
  • 1 0
 Jubs17, the move to Kamloops help because the dryer climate? Humaira is amazing, don’t know where i would be without it, but i live in the koots, and it gets dam damp here for 9 months of the year,
  • 1 0
 @thirs-t-bikr: Yes, the dry and hot weather helps a lot. Also, the biking's not bad hahaha
  • 9 0
 I have had an autoimmune disease, psoriatic arthritis, since I was 15. I am now 30. It has been a lot of ups and downs over the years. Our healthcare system in the US has not made it easy. But I try to remember that in fact I am lucky because I live in a time where there are really helpful drugs out there. Those drugs have allowed me to mountain bike at a level that wouldn't be possible without the drugs. That being said, the disease still holds me back from certain progression levels. So I really feel for Emil who is trying to be on the top. He is not alone.
  • 3 0
 Psoriatic Arthritis sucks balls. There is days, where i have zero energy.
  • 3 0
 15 is young to get PA, I was in my early 30’s. Stelara has changed my life but depending on your insurance it may not be an option. If you haven’t already, ask your rheumatologist about it. It’s an injectable and while I pay a $5 copay for it every 3 months it retails for almost $14,000 per dose (stupid healthcare/insurance system).
  • 6 0
 Autoimmune diseases are shit. I've been dealing with MS for a while now. Its always different. First started when I lost the feeling in my hands. That came back. Later lost the feeling in my tongue, half came back. Had a period where I couldn't read road signs. At the moment I can't feel my right foot, fortunately clip-less pedals mean I don't need to. I have every sympathy for fellow cyclists battling auto-immunity.
  • 3 0
 My wife also has MS, I know how difficult it is. Stay strong man ! I also feel a lot a sympathy for people like you that are fighting hard just to keep riding, because we all know why we are riding bikes, you just feel f... alive.
  • 4 0
 I totally feel compassion for Emil and all the other riders with autoimmune diseases. Our challenge is that we all have the same passion for riding and sometimes, for some days, months, even years, we cannot go out on the trails cause it hurts so much...That is the toughest thing to accept, to stay home. Good thing there are treatments but they all have side effects and sometimes it does not work anymore, plus it does not cure from the disease. So we have to develop patience and resilience, or else it is f** hell. I have rheumatoid arthritis since 15 years. I am 40 years old now and there is no way, I won't give up riding cause RA. I can still perform on my bike and sometimes, I feel like a 90 years old crippled lady. It is the challenge of my life.
  • 4 0
 I have had the good fortune to be with Emil at a couple events. In true Swedish fashion, he is humble, considerate and confident like few others. His abilties on a bike are only second to his quality as a human.
  • 3 0
 Man it’s nice to know we are not alone right? Having an auto-immune disease sucks. I’ve been dealing with rheumatoid arthritis for the last 16 years. The best thing to do is keep moving, keep a positive attitude, and take the meds. For a couple of years I would just work and go home and play video games, it was a sad time in my life. Once I got back on the bike, or hiking, lifting my energy levels picked up and I was happier. Keep on keeping on!
  • 3 0
 About 7 years ago I started getting aches and pains in my toes, then my ankles. At first I thought it was gout from too much red meat and beer. Went to see a podiatrist who said he couldn’t help and referred me to a rheumatologist. Turned out that I have psoriatic arthritis which is an autoimmune condition.

I struggled to walk some mornings, my fingers and toes started looking like sausages. I tried a couple oral treatments that would kind of help but not enough. I finally got cleared to try an injectable medication called Stelara and it has helped immensely. The only problem is the medication lowers my immune systems ability to fight off infections and illness so I have to get the flu shot, tested for TB regularly, and the pneumonia vaccination... not to mention blood tests every few months. I give myself injections every 3 months. The medication costs almost $14,000 per dose, not exaggerating here. Luckily I have good insurance and only pay a $5 copay or else I’d be screwed.

I just recently quit drinking beer and have improved my diet in hopes of going into full remission. I’ve also started acupuncture and massage therapy.

All along riding my bike has helped keep my joints moving and my stress levels down, problem is finding enough time to ride with long work hours and 2 young kids.

Keep pushing Emil, I hope you find a path to recovery!
  • 3 0
 I’ve been diagnosed with Psoristic RA since age 1. I’m 37 today with limited mobility in my wrists knees feet and anywhere two bones meet. The energy dumps are like a shock to my nervous system, rendering me to seek isolation to be able to breathe through the flares. I’ve tried Almost every biological treatment under the sun with temporary relief. Constantly having to change meds. I’ve had to stop biking this last year , just became too dangerous as I can’t grip the bike bars safely. You have to keep moving. Find new hobbies and passions. Just keep going.

I guess now I can try my hand at rally cross racing Smile
  • 1 0
 Have you tried Stelara injections? I am 38 and have had PA for 7-8 years and it is all that has really worked so far. I do know that meds work differently for everyone but if you have not explored Stelara it’s worth asking your doctor.
  • 3 0
 @OCtrailMonkey: on it now, first injection last week.... so far so good. makes me a little anxious, tight jawed but inflammation is down
  • 1 0
 Amazing to see you back Emil, I'm currently in the middle of trying to get my underactive thyroid diagnosed and it's been the toughest 2 years of my life. Haven't ridden my bike since August. The Irish health system sucks and it's a constant battle to get a diagnosis. Yours is an inspiring story.
  • 2 0
 @pinkbike. Is it me or only the trailer is showing? Link to full video:
  • 1 0
 Emil people like you and Scotty cramner make the impossible possible, true inspirations that with passion, focus and determination anything is possible! Keep pushing and doing what your doing you champion!
  • 3 0
 For Emil and all the fighters who commented above- I wish u all the health and luck you need for 2020 and beyond.
  • 3 0
 You guys are all amazing!
  • 2 0
 super excited to see him ride again this year - long live fun tricks !
  • 2 1
 Did the music remind anyone else of Travis Rice's Art of Flight trailer?
  • 1 0
 The video on the linked page is not working for me, anyone?
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