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2022 Pinkbike Awards: Comeback of the Year Nominees

Dec 17, 2022 at 9:02
by Ed Spratt  
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Comeback of the Year Nominees

Comebacks generally involve injuries, but don't forget the equally taxing mental fortitude it takes to overcome an injury and fight to be as fast as your peers once again. We aren’t writing this article to glorify injury but do believe that the strength of character shown by the athletes below deserves plenty of credit. Here are our nominees for Comeback of the Year.






Why they are nominated

Following his nightmare crash at the 2021 Red Bull Rampage it must have been a hard decision to return to the event this year. To just recover from injuries is a challenging journey, let alone getting back on the bike and accepting the invite to the biggest and toughest event of the year. Not only did Tom make it back for this year's Rampage but he laid down a wild run and take home the McGazza Spirit Award.






Why they are nominated

Brett Rheeder had a tough 2021 season struggling through injuries and surgery leading him to miss out on a chance to compete at Rampage. A year later and without being present at any major competition Brett Rheeder decided to turn up at Proving Grounds on a whim and not only sent the huge features but come out on top of the podium. Spirits must have been high heading into this year's Rampage as Brett built a unique line for his fresh single crown freeride machine and piloted it to first place with a score of 90.66






Why they are nominated

If we had an award for the most gruesome injury we wouldn't need to bother with nominations as we think everyone would agree Isabeau Courdurier would be a worthy winner. During the EWS-E in Valberg Isabeau was unlucky enough to catch a tree branch after running wide on a corner leading to it, and it pierced straight through her foot. Despite the horrific-looking injury the French rider was pretty quickly back on the bike and would go on to win two more races in the season and secure the overall EWS title.






Why they are nominated

After a practice crash at Mont-Sainte-Anne resulting in a broken collarbone, it looked like the season and the hopes of the World Cup overall title were over. But Camille Balanche fought back hard and did what seemed nearly impossible to have surgery and make it back to racing in time for World Champs. Not only did Camille make it back for World Champs but she almost ended up with a medal after placing fourth. Wrapping up the season Camille, was able to hold on for fifth place at Val di Sole to take the overall title by 60 points against Myriam Nicole.






Why they are nominated

A crash back in June 2021 led to Gee Atherton being airlifted to hospital with broken ribs, multiple fractures and breaks to his femur and wrists. It was a long journey of recovery with a return to racing seeming to be up in the air. But Gee is a fighter and came back with a bang producing his 'Ridgeline II: The Return' edit and competing at the toughest DH race, Red Bull Hardline.








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edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
3,313 articles

67 Comments
  • 340 2
 Everyone deserves this awards but it hast to be Gee Atherton for me. The chrash he had was not a "season ender, or a "career ender", this could have been a "life ender". To bounce back from that within a year. Astonishing, to say the least.
  • 62 0
 and on your return, compete in the most full on DH race around ... hats off to the gee man
  • 23 0
 200% agree. That crash... no one is supposed to come back to riding after that
  • 12 0
 There was a video recently where I heard him list his injuries. I knew it was bad but I hadn't realised just how much he'd broken/torn/destroyed. Sounded like it would have been quicker to list what he hadn't damaged.
  • 15 0
 Can we split this one between Gee and Tom. Both seemed like they had the potential to be life changing, somehow neither one kept them down for a full season
  • 5 0
 @Woody25: he probably has like 4-5 of the 10 craziest MTB crashes on camera. Always bounces back. He’s not super young anymore either.
  • 9 0
 Still haven't watched it; not gonna.
  • 1 0
 @Woody25: I seem to remember him saying he had night terrors and other things that really affected him mentally. He was so mentally and physically damaged, it makes his comeback all the more impressive
  • 2 0
 @amacdonald: I agree, both crashes were absolutely nightmare fuel and both left everyone concerned for their future but despite that, BOTH of those guys shocked the world (okay, the MTB world) when they both came back to Competition almost exactly one year later from their respective incidents. Incredible determination by both athletes.
  • 56 0
 Gee-man.
  • 41 1
 The fact that Gee lived and can walk is amazing and then to come back swinging is just plain gangster.
  • 22 0
 Both Courdurier and Balanche winning their respective overalls really speaks to how insanely tough and motivated these athletes are. Hard to choose when they both had very significant injuries, and both not only came back crazy fast but continued to ride at elite levels to secure their titles.
  • 19 0
 Tom coming back was crazy... but credit to Rheeder. Dude took 3 years off. Came back from a busted femur and blown up knee and won both events he entered and one of them was Rampage.... But Tom almost died... and Gee looked like he was dead. So there's that.... All of these people are amazing. All deserving.
  • 21 0
 Gee…..I wonder who will win this one!
  • 16 1
 Don‘t forget Mr.Fluckiger. He is back. He ist not flucked anymore.
  • 5 0
 Is he?! I haven't heard anything since the...incident
  • 2 0
 @lejake: his ban got lifted, because the test should not have been stated as "positive" but as "not normal" or how ever it's called... The amount that was found was too low to actually call it positive and the tests the week prior and after didn't show any sign of that stuff that was found.
So "Swiss Sport Integrity" (former "Antidoping Schweiz") broke their integrity by not staying on WADA protocol for this case and basically destroyed Flückigers best season so far.
  • 1 0
 @Phipu: Thank youSmile
  • 2 0
 @lejake: just looked if i find an english source, but didn't. So here is where i read it first:
www.ride.ch/de/news/doping-sperre-von-mathias-flueckiger-ist-aufgehoben
  • 8 0
 I was honestly scared for TVS after last year, but Cami racing world cups and winning the overall so shortly after the broken collar was the most awe-inspiring to me.
  • 6 0
 There were some gnarly wrecks that led to some amazing comebacks for sure. Between Gee and Van Steezburger for total carnage. Isa's was gruesome
  • 9 0
 I don't know how to choose between Gee and Tom.
  • 8 0
 tough judging when 90% of mountain bikers are tough as nails
  • 35 0
 Not me, I'm more like damp creaky plywood.
  • 2 0
 @Velocipedestrian: username checks out
  • 7 0
 A tie between Gee & Tom. Amazing either one is even back on the bike let alone at the highest level.
  • 13 8
 Why no nomination for Aaron Gwin? Finised 2021 at 62nd and 2022 in 8th overall. Not saying he would've won, but at lease nominated. He gets my vote for the win in this cat.
  • 1 1
 Yep
  • 4 3
 Some people’s adoration for Gwin never ceases to amaze me. Did you even consider these other comebacks??
  • 3 1
 @snomaster: I did, and they are ALL deserving of the nomination. And any one of them are deserving of the win as well. I believe that Gwinn is also deserving of at least a nomination.
  • 3 1
 @snomaster: I wouldn’t say I ‘adore’ Gwin. I just think he deserves a nomination here as many people, including myself, thought he may never stand in a podium again after 2021. Different strokes, kinda like why some people choose to ski the Wasatch and Tetons and others prefer the CO front range. Neither are the ‘correct’ choice - just different.
  • 5 0
 Comeback of the year will alway and forever be: "I know you are, but what am I?"
  • 2 0
 But what about the perennial classic, "Your Mom!"? I'll admit it does lack specificity.
  • 7 2
 Bruni deserves a mention: Broken collarbone & dislocated shoulder, then coming back in the same season to win World's.
  • 3 0
 Was just about to say the same. He's the champ
  • 3 2
 Cammy deserves this one. She could have called off the rest of the seasons and no one would have questioned the decision. She was completely smashed up and instead of throwing in the towel, she did everything possible to get back and close out the season. Insane tenacity & grit, and it was all worth it.

Cammy for the win!

Gee's a close second. Though maybe we should give it to that poor mountain, though I don't know if it is recovered yet.
  • 4 0
 Gee's comeback after that crash...sheesh
  • 4 0
 There's only one winner and it's Gee. Hard as nails.
  • 7 2
 Kim Kardashian
  • 1 0
 Just reading the title I was sort of hoping for best comeback to an insult in the comment section.

Meanwhile I am also hoping they post top comment this year. I don’t think they did last year
  • 1 0
 They all deserve big kudos to be fair, but I’d have to choose between Cami and Gee. Then, when you consider that the outcome of Gee’s crash could have been life ending, he has to get the vote.
  • 2 0
 gotta be Gee. That was one of the worst crashes I've ever seen on an MTB, and I haven't missed a Friday fails in a long time.
  • 2 0
 If Gee doesn't win this, the entire PB award system is invalid. Guy shouldn't even be f*cking walking after that crash, let alone racing at a WC level.
  • 4 1
 no slopestyle? max fredricson went crazy this season
  • 3 0
 All nominated should get an award!
  • 4 0
 Goes to Gee man 100%
  • 4 0
 Gee all day
  • 1 0
 I feel like Jess Blewit belongs here. Massive crash in snowshoe, comes back from two broken collarbones to best podiums and then Hardline. Pink bike blew it
  • 1 0
 Max will win this next year after he pockets $30k, disappears off the radar for 12 months, then comes back and wins 'pinkbike who wants to be a social media star' season 4.
  • 3 1
 ISABEAU'S FOOT WAS SO GNAR SHEESH
  • 2 0
 Bulldog again. Congrats to all the nominees all well deserving.
  • 1 0
 Such a misleading headline I thought this was going to be for the wittiest, smart ass reader forum retort.
  • 1 1
 For me, it's Cami. I cannot imagine racing at the highest level 3 weeks after breaking your collar bone. That said, they're all insanely tough.
  • 3 0
 Yeah. Gee
  • 2 0
 All deserving but it's Gee for sure.
  • 3 0
 Gee!
  • 2 0
 TVS
  • 2 1
 will Hyper ever release a real bike
  • 1 0
 Please make this awards a poll so we can vote
  • 2 0
 Gee of course
  • 2 0
 Gee !!
  • 1 0
 GEEMAN need I say anymore?
  • 10 9
 A A R O N G W I N
  • 2 1
 Yeah wtf, didn't he nearly win a world cup after being written off? Gee for the win but Aaron Should atleast be on the list.
  • 1 1
 Camille Balanche hands down
  • 1 1
 SICK DICK POUND!







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