Finn Iles Decides to Miss Fort William & Undergo Testing Following a Concussion

May 19, 2022 at 8:25
by Ed Spratt  
Second in qualies and yet another second in finals Finn Iles is mere inches away from his first win.

Finn Iles has revealed that he will not be racing at Fort William after a big crash a few weeks ago left him with a concussion.

After thinking it was just a minor concussion Finn continued to have symptoms and found he couldn't perform at any level of intensity. Instead of trying to race in Fort William Finn has instead made the sensible decision to sit out the next round of the World Cup and go to Red Bull's Athlete Performance Centre in Austria to undergo testing and rehab. Finn joins a growing list of riders dealing with concussions as Myriam Nicole and Tahnee Seagrave shared their struggles this week.

bigquotesI wish I had better news…. a few weeks back, I had a big crash resulting in what I thought was a minor concussion. At times it felt like my condition was improving, however I am dealing with symptoms day to day as well as still being unable to work at any level of intensity. As a result, will not be racing Fort William in favour undergoing testing and rehab at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Centre in Austria. I would like to thank Specialized Gravity, my sponsors, and Red Bull for always being there for me and ensuring the right decisions are made. Hope to be back soon!! Finn Iles

We wish Finn all the best with his recovery and hope he is back on the bike soon.


92 Comments

  • 194 2
 GOOD ON YOU MATE!
  • 33 0
 Bummed as you are off to a hot start and concussions are never a good thing but way to make the right move
  • 132 0
 Great leadership from Finn/Tahnee and their teams. So happy to see this!
  • 18 0
 Hopefully other Teams/riders/UCI officials will start to take their lead and take concussions more seriously.
  • 47 0
 I'm happy to see it's more common for top athletes to bow out and listen to their bodies.
  • 39 1
 Can't help but think the UCI needs to read the writing on the wall here- sponsors and teams are incentivized to ignore concussions, and you can't expect a rider to make good decisions while concussed by definition. IMO the whole point of a governing body is to enforce safety and fairness among riders by being an unbiased third party. I'm not sure the best way to fix it, but clearly this is a problem
  • 31 0
 looking to the UCI to fix anything is a dead end.
  • 7 27
flag blowmyfuse (May 19, 2022 at 9:31) (Below Threshold)
 You take the red pill and get all paranoid? Mountain bike race teams aren't out to force riders to race. This isn't US Football. This industry isn't like that.

Put that tin foil hat away & drink another Beer
  • 32 3
 One easy change would be to add a round and allow riders to drop a race so they can still be competitive in the overall if they sit one out.
  • 13 0
 @dthomp325: Thats an interesting idea. And if they are healthy and race every round they can drop their lowest result.
  • 3 0
 It does seem like it's time for a reckoning with regard to brain injuries.
  • 2 0
 @sino428: It's not a new idea though, is it? Didn't this used to be a part of UCI points in the 90s, when there were enough races to consider that?
  • 2 0
 @aaronjb: I have no idea. That’s a little before my time. Definitely possible though.

Even if it was never used in biking the general idea for dropping your lowest result is not new. It’s been used in other sports before.
  • 32 0
 Man, is it concussion season or did the athletes just ride on with a concussion and don't tell anybody in the past? Heal up!
  • 24 0
 ride on with a concussion and don't tell anybody in the past? oh very much this with quite a few injuries.
  • 19 0
 I'm pretty sure they just raced with concussions in the past. Seems like they're finally feeling comfortable putting their health as first priority when that may have been less of an option before.
  • 8 9
 I'm gonna catch some (a shitload of) flack for this but I've been thinking about it this week, so here goes.... is DH racing too dangerous?
  • 9 1
 They did ride on with a 'rung bell' and were sometimes lauded for it. It was not unusual that someone would crash hard in practice, bang their head, sometimes be knocked out and still race. Thank god things are changing.
  • 14 0
 @alanbonk: The past being 2 months back in Lourdes when Myriam raced shortly after a concussion.
  • 3 1
 @IrishTom: Yeah I hate it when some people praise riders for just getting back to racing the same or next day after a heavy crash. It is not cool to put your health last, you should put it first, especially after a crash on the head
  • 5 0
 @dstroud70: It is an extreme sport and a big risk comes with it. But at least one could establish some monitoring of concussions so the riders won't put themselves at massively increased risk by riding again directly after a crash
  • 1 0
 @bashhard: I get it. I could go on about whether helmets will ever make it WAY safer but in the end it's all personal choice and I respect that.
  • 6 0
 @dstroud70: people around the World Cup have been saying for years that the speeds have gone up and tracks gotten straighter to make for a better viewing experience. When dh guys have gone to EWS in the past, this and the tracks not really changing every year have been their main reasoning for it. They say speed kills and we’ve seen a lot of that in the injuries dh riders have in and out of the world cups in the past few years. As much as I’ve liked Red Bull broadcasting the world cups I hope discovery can help to mitigate some of the risk and make the sport a little safer while still providing an exciting viewing experience for us.
  • 12 0
 @TheSlayer99: As much as the high speed massive jumps look good, what I really want to see is the skill of the riders flawlessly traversing technical tracks. More Leogang woods.
  • 13 0
 @pisgahgnar: I think honestly more old school tracks would be better for the sport. The direction it’s going now, it’s all whoever can ride the main line the fastest and while that makes for tight racing, it’s not really about who is truly the best bike rider it’s about who has the biggest balls on the day. The tracks that truly offer the best racing are the ones with the most line choice because the racers have to be fast and have to be able to find the lines that work best for their riding style.
  • 7 0
 Check out the book about Dale Earnhardt Jr. it’s an auto biography called Racing to the Finish. I picked it up not really know what it was going to be about much more than drinking beer and driving cars fast but the entire book is about Dale Jr changing the way NASCAR looks at concussions and taking it seriously. Anyone that wants to read more on it, solid book choice for the topic.
  • 2 0
 @dstroud70: That’s not a bad question at all. DH is a speed sport though and has always been risky. Maybe a better question now is, has it changed nd become more risky? Alpine ski racing has gone through this. Skis are too good so the ski designs are changed and courses become less jumpy and more turns. Then they swing back because it’s too easy. But when three top riders are out with the same injury, it leads to questions as it should. I don’t know the answer.
  • 1 0
 @TheSlayer99: I don't think Redbull has any say in what the tracks are like.
  • 2 0
 @dstroud70:
This. To add some legitimacy, even Amaury Pierron commented that more should be done to protect racers on a podcast earlier this year.
  • 2 1
 @dstroud70: Have you heard of Supercross?
  • 2 0
 @TheSlayer99: It was one lined back in the day too mate. Just flatter and longer.
  • 1 0
 @dstroud70: a good question to ask. I wonder how we will look back on all sports with a risk of head injury in the future? Will this be a shameful period in history when the safety of athlete's was neglected?
  • 1 0
 @dstroud70: helmets can only offer so much safety. Reality is helmets are more designed to spread the impact around a larger area so your skull doesn’t crack open. Not prevent concussions.

Concussions happen when the head slows down abruptly and the brain smashes into the inside of the skull. Helmets can only do so much to ease that deceleration. The only way to really do that is to increase the distance over which that deceleration happens (think auto airbag or crumble zones on a car).
  • 1 0
 @dstroud70: as others have said, good question and I can't help but point out that at least here in the US we glorify football, from pee wee league up to the NFL. Those guys are getting their noodles blasted all the time, even if its "just" linemen smashing their respective noggins against each other basically every play at relatively low speeds. And that's to say nothing about boxing and various combat sports where the stated goal is to knock your opponent unconscious. Its a wild world we live in, but in the end, I'm super glad Finn and the other ladies are making the right decision to sit out. And it may turn out they need to sit way longer than just one race - certainly hope not tho.
  • 14 0
 Really glad to see more of this! Really sorry you don't get to race, but your priorities are in the right place. There will be other races, you only get one brain. Good on you Finn.
  • 11 0
 3 in a week and we haven't even started yet.

And this isn't a new thing. Does the concussion protocol need review? Is there something up with the helmet tech right now?

Are these impact concussions or rotational?

Stuff is scary to deal with. Wish the best for all 3 of these athletes.
  • 2 0
 You are asking very good and important questions. Hopefully we will see some answers soon.
  • 1 2
 It's fine all these riders have MIPS
  • 12 0
 Smart move don't shrug stuff off if you've got to take the mend it's a part of life - hope you heal up quick and stronger than before bro!!
  • 5 0
 It should be an easier decision than it is for sponsors. Ignoring the health and happiness of your athletes, and treating them just like a piece of meat for marketing, purely focusing on profits, why would you pressure an injured athlete to show up and perform poorly? Esp. a non-visible injury? Concussions don't give people a cast, or brace, or even an easy thing to point at. Yet it still dramatically affects your ability to compete.
  • 6 0
 Finn was on an upward trajectory, no need to risk that riding on a concussion. Smart move by the kid - hopefully heals up soon and he can be back to where he left off. Heal up Finn!
  • 2 0
 That's tough as he was headed for a huge season. Must have have been a hard, but right decision to make if he's still feeling the effects... At least pros in the NFL make 7 figures for the risks they are taking. DH pros make peanuts compared to those guys.

Can you even ride DH without having a concussion at some point?
  • 1 0
 I've only ever had 2 concussions. One was in 6th grade from a fastball to the temple and the other was me on my moto in 10th grade flying through the woods.

Been blessed to not head slam on the DH or trail bikes.

A buddy however has concussed himself multiple times on both DH & trail bikes. He's like a lawn dart.
  • 2 0
 Oh man, that doesn't sound good. Healing vibes for you my man.
Last year(I think?) I fell inside my house and whacked my head on the floor bad enough to put me out of action for a couple of months. Blurred vision, headaches, unrelenting mental fog, and memory problems that haven't really gone away.
Brain injuries are no joke and it is not a good feeling when you know something is wrong upstairs.

Example:
Pre-Concussion- I used to forget where my keys were but I could remember what I was doing moments before and retrace my steps.
Post Concussion- Now, when this happens and I try to think about what I was doing moments before, there is nothing there. Just blank, black, nothingness. Not a good feeling.
  • 1 0
 I over shot a jump and my specialized dh helmet cracked in Half and had the imprint of my stem on bolth sides of the helmet.. after that horrible concussion ive never been the same i would say anyone riding at world cup speed should use lightweight motocross helmets
  • 1 0
 Easy solution here UCI. Allow one “discard” race that each rider is allowed and doesn’t affect your standing.

Many established sports do this. Sailing for example.

There should be no incentive for teams to ignore concussions.
  • 1 0
 Can't remember which podcast it was on, but an episode I heard recently had a researcher on which explained that current concussion protocol and evaluation no longer uses "mild" concussion nor classifies concussions. You are either concussed or not and the symptoms, their impact and the recovery from them varies from case to case. Some take a couple of days, some can take months, and it's not as easy as the apparent force of the impact.
  • 1 0
 Joining the conversation a bit late but this is great! Thankful for the willingness of pro athletes like Finn who are setting the example by making the hard choice of taking care of themselves instead of risking everything for a temporary gain.
  • 10 8
 Argh my fantasy picks are all screwed now. Actually, healing vibes, I know how repeated concussions can F you up in the long run.
  • 1 0
 I had to shuffle too. Lol. But that’s small fries compared to what these athletes are dealing with
  • 4 0
 Bummed for Finn...he's still in contention for the overall hopefully!
  • 3 0
 Yeah, I'm bummed for him as well. I had a feeling he was going to take his first win this weekend... not sure why, but he just seemed to be peaking at Lourdes and finding the final missing piece to get onto the top step. I hope he gets better soon, he's got a bright future.
  • 2 0
 All Red Bull athletes. I wonder if Red Bull is urging them to take care of themselves... and get ahead of any negative brain injury stories that may arise (unlike the NFL).
  • 3 0
 ONE MORE...... Stop the madness - be safe !!!
  • 6 2
 Make slower tracks?
  • 1 0
 Good on mate, you all shouldn't run with concussion. It's easy to overlook as a head thing and just send it. Certain path to other injuries. I'm proud of you guys!!
  • 2 0
 After the third article about concussions in a week, I'm wondering if safety standards for downhill helmets are good enough.
  • 6 1
 Concussion is caused by the brain hitting the inner skull. So even whiplash is known to cause concussion with no head impact at all. No helmet can stop the brain moving in the skull. It’s the speed the head moves then sudden stop that causes it.
  • 2 0
 @mikelee: I agree with you, but It seems strange to me that motocross riders don't suffer about this problem so often and they crash at higher speed/from higher jumps.
Furthermore their medical protocol is more strict and their races last longer so it's nearly impossible to conceal the problem.
I use to ride motocross helmets in the past until I definitely stop riding motorbikes and the first time I bought a proper DH helmet (high end) my fist though was It wasn't good enough.
Maybe (this is just my opinion) they should start thinking about new standards as the average speed in Downhill races is constantly increasing.
  • 1 0
 @flowisforpussies: do a quick Google search. You mat be surprised to find out how little helmets are designed to protect from.

And one big problem is how to protect from both big impacts and small.. a small impact requires a soft liner to absorb the impact but wont protect from a big impact and vice versa
  • 1 0
 Wishing you a quick recovery Finn!!! Hope you feel better and I think it is awesome you're setting a good example for up and coming riders to take head injuries seriously.
  • 1 0
 All 3 people out with concussions are Redbull athletes. Good on them for taking care of their athletes brains instead of pressuring them to send their logos down the course.
  • 1 0
 Take it easy Finn, we'll see you when you come back! Thanks for making the right call
  • 2 0
 How is Ethan Shandro doing?
  • 1 0
 Damn, lots of head injury related news these days. A good reminder to be safe out there boys.
  • 1 0
 Thats our reminder to rock full faces and neck braces every trip to the park.
  • 3 2
 Yep, our helmet manufacturers have a lot of work ahead of them.
  • 2 1
 Bummer, Finn was looking quick!
  • 2 0
 Like Myriam should be?
  • 1 0
 Respect the hell out of this choice.
  • 2 1
 If he got paid less I’m sure he would be back at work by now !
  • 1 0
 Damn.. he was on fire... healing vibes
  • 1 0
 See Redbull can be good for your health!
  • 1 0
 You’re my boy, BLUE!!! Get well soon, man.
  • 1 0
 Bud! Recover in no time! Healing vibes!
  • 1 0
 The group B era of Downhill is here. Time to slow bikes and tracks down.
  • 1 1
 They are all riding Fox, don’t they?
  • 1 0
 Bell for Nicole, my bad.
  • 2 0
 Finn on Specialized helmet now.
  • 1 0
 @prevail and @dirtpedaler: Thanks for bringing this up! I know it is far from scientific, but with the rash of these reports starting with Nicole, Tahnee, and now Finn, I was curious if they were all in the same helmet or not. If they were all in the same lid, it certainly wouldn't be confidence inspiring, but it seems they're all in different brands.
  • 3 0
 It's not the helmets. They're safer than they've ever been. You can only design so much "give" into the limited space inside the shell. There's not enough space to slow your skulls rate of deceleration and Inertia will carry your brain into the inner wall of your skull. So unless you want to look like "Dark Helmet" there's only so much they can do when your skull suddenly stops moving and your brain doesn't.

A lot of it has to do with just how capable and fast the bikes have become. They're covering ground faster than ever.
At some point the speeds outstrip the human bodies ability to absorb impacts. IMPO, we're getting very close to that point where major injuries become commonplace, and then some.
  • 1 0
 I've taken a couple solid hits to my head recently while wearing a TLD Stage, not really high speed gnarly crashes either. Done with these light weight fullfaces now and wearing my D4 instead. Also broke one of the Specialized lightweight full faces when they came out back in 2007 on a very slow speed fall and that turned me off to Specialized helmets.
  • 1 0
 I busted a D3 and used the crash replacement. (30% is their policy)

After reaching out, I was surprised when TLD themselves recommended I go with another D3 over the Stage. Those light full faces are not for going fast!
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: Group B downhill years are here, these bikes are too fast, and not really as good to watch either.
  • 1 1
 I've now lost my whole fantasy team
  • 1 0
 yeah had to rejig myself, not too late!
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