2022 Pinkbike Awards: Comeback of the Year Winner

Dec 22, 2022 at 7:51
by Ed Spratt  

Comeback of the Year Winner

Injuries are nothing to glorify, but the mental and physical fortitude to come back from them and return to the top flight of racing is always worth recognition. And the winner of the 2022 Comeback of the Year Award is...

Why she's the winner

Choosing the winner of the comeback award was one of the hardest decisions this year as we had many deserving athletes come back from injury to achieve huge things in 2022. But for us, one rider's comeback stood above the rest and that was Camille Balanche's. Camille defied the odds for her comeback from a broken collarbone in Mont-Sainte-Anne, managing to cling onto the overall and place fourth at World Champs.

To crash mid-season while in the best form of your career so far would be the season's end for most World Cup riders, but Camille Balanche fought through the impossible to recover in an extraordinarily short time. Camille not only returned to racing but still placed at the sharp end of racing and won the overall title. Many thought Camille's season and chances of an overall title were over after Mont-Sainte-Anne but she proved the doubters wrong.

Another World Cup win to add to Camille Balanche s repertoire.

Camille Balanche is the one to beat at this venue. Can she make it three victories in a row

Camille Balanche held on tight for one hell of a ride down the brutal track to take the top spot of the day.

Relief. Camille Balanche defied the odds coming back from a broken collarbone in Mont Sainte Anne and clung onto that overall and deservedly so.


  • 165 48
 Gee robbed imo… bloke could have very easily died and has come back with an equally gnarly edit in which he rides stuff 99% of us could only dream of riding regardless of a near death crash.

Just my opinion though…
  • 129 9
 Robbed is a bit harsh, Cami finished 4th in the World Champs twenty days after breaking her collarbone, that's a serious mental challenge to overcome
  • 97 1
 Doubt gee's sitting home crying about it
  • 12 69
flag mrift04 (Dec 26, 2022 at 15:16) (Below Threshold)
 Its probably because Camille is better looking then Gee.
  • 4 44
flag sanchofula (Dec 26, 2022 at 17:35) (Below Threshold)
 @mrift04: yup, you’re totally right, even if you got negged repped a dozen time.

Cami is cute, wholesome, and has a winning personality.

Gee is, well, he’s Gee Smile
  • 7 36
flag Dillonmennie (Dec 26, 2022 at 18:43) (Below Threshold)
 He came back but he’s not even a top 20 guy anymore
  • 24 1
 @Dillonmennie: Gee hasn't raced a World Cup since the first stop of the 2021 season, before his accident. Do you just say things without any knowledge of them whatsoever?

Add to it his only race since the crash was Hardline 2022, and he stomped down a 5th place.

Props to Cami nonetheless, I think she is more than deserving of this award for racing through her injury. She did not win because of being a woman @mrift04 @sanchofula , she won because that takes a lot of f*cking grit. It literally hurts to ride every second with a freshly broken collarbone.
  • 8 10
 Gee was back... but did nothing special. Camille did.
  • 84 5
 Alice Leggett 2023!
  • 20 0
  • 41 18
 I still don't think her performance beats Gee's. I mean..she broke a collarbone...Gee broke half his body and came back to hardline. She didn't really leave, so not much of a comeback!
  • 23 6
 To quote Andy from Parks & Rec, Kim Kardashian had the best Cum-back story.
  • 2 2
 Clicked on the article just to find this comment. Well done.
  • 14 1
 Unfortunately the mountain on which Gee crashed will not be returning to professional level competitions due to irreparable damage to its ridgeline.
  • 8 0
 I can definitely understand how both Gee and Cami have really good claims to this award; their stories are both really compelling and inspiring, but also very different. Ultimately, it comes down to what your definition of "best comeback" is.

Cami's comeback was tied up with a really exciting battle for the world cup overall and her awesome underdog story. Gee's comeback didn't necessarily have that same sense of high drama that played out over the course of only a few weeks, but there's no question his crash and injuries were more horrific and him coming back at all was a staggering feat.

Both are winners in my book.
  • 16 4
 This is right on.
  • 11 2
 I think that all of us are extremely pleased and indeed grateful that Gee and Tom VS have been able to come back to a high level, but Camile had to come back to a measurable performance level in a short period of time. As all of us who've broken bones doing such things have learned, the mental side of that is particularly tough. But congratulations to everyone who even got nominated for this award.
  • 12 5
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: Can you imagine Gee's mental toughness to hit those monster Hardline gaps at warp speed after rag dolling his body? Cami needed a 4th and a bit of luck from others crashing and mistaking.
  • 8 0
 @neimbc: honestly watching Gee’s current trajectory and choices makes me worry about him. Is ever more extreme jumpy gnarl what you’ve got to do to stay relevant (and sell bikes) now?
  • 44 36
 Go ahead and burn me at the stake.

This feels a bit “because it’s a girl” and because it was girls DH racing.

A collarbone sucks, but it’s a sprain compared to what TVS and Gee went through.
  • 10 14
flag Dillonmennie (Dec 26, 2022 at 18:43) (Below Threshold)
 Yea he came back but he’s not a top competitor anymore. Sure he’s a legend but his time on the top has passed
  • 8 15
flag danstonQ (Dec 27, 2022 at 1:52) (Below Threshold)
 Typical hurt pride male's comment.
  • 24 2
 What makers her comeback so impressive isn't the severity of the injury or even the speed of recovery. Its the fact that she managed to come back to win the overall after having her hopes of the title brutally clobbered by a mid-season injury. The mental aspect of that feat is mindblowing.
  • 13 0
 @Ttimer: Yeah, it's not about her being a girl. While Gee and TVS did full recoveries Cami showed true f*cking grit and toughness to still race at a World Cup level with a freshly mangled collarbone. That is the pure determination to pull for the title in absolute pain, not to mention the mental aspect of racing IMMEDIATELY after a gnarly crash.

I'll admit I wanted Gee to win, but bringing Cami's gender into the equation is unwarranted, especially considering no male WC racer has ever done what she did this season. There is no precedent for either of their accomplishments, stop using gender as an excuse.
  • 7 1
 Every one of the riders nominated for the award had a strong case, but it’s hard to argue with Cami winning it.
Coming back so soon from surgery on a broken collarbone is something in itself, but to comeback and be competitive makes it pretty special.
We’ve seen how talented, fast and consistent a rider, Cami is, but there’s no doubt that she’s also fully committed and determined, too.

Definitely deserving of this award.
  • 8 0
 Nice job Camille! Loved watching you race this season...
  • 7 0
 Norbs got robbed
  • 3 0
 I was there at Leogang….she was on another level smoking the rest of the field by an unbelievable 10 seconds! CAMY IS A LION ☝️
  • 19 15
 Love watching this chick ride, plus she's got great hair.
  • 9 4
 Im not sure why you’re getting down voted. You must not be allowed to admire the mane. @HankHank:
  • 5 10
flag jclnv (Dec 26, 2022 at 18:03) (Below Threshold)

  • 5 1
 Cami FTW
  • 5 1
  • 7 3
 Nino got robbed.
  • 1 25
flag dimitree (Dec 26, 2022 at 15:40) (Below Threshold)
 Nino is a POS.
  • 6 6
 @dimitree: Nino may be a POS, but you are also a POS, I'm a POS, we're all POS. But if we're all POS, no one is. In conclusion of my TED Talk, Nino may be a POS, but he is a significantly-above-average POS, which is all the difference in our POS world.
  • 4 1
 Yes it was ,congratulations
  • 3 4
 So all these best of best stuff, it’s like PB stuff left the bots to post content, none of which is all that appealing; though it does garner clicks and comments… just boring and lame, but it’s free so it is what it is.
  • 3 0
 @dimitree Nino on top
  • 2 0
 No doubt.
  • 9 8
 Gee should’ve won, no question about it.
  • 1 4
 Who? Never heard of him?
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