Baptiste Pierron Fractures 4 Vertebrae in Race Run Crash

Jul 14, 2021 at 3:37
by James Smurthwaite  

Baptiste Pierron has fractured four vertebrae in his back following a crash at the Auvergne Rhône Alpes Championships at the Bike Park du Lioran.

The crash happened after Pierron's hand slipped off the bars on some open grass turns and left him cartwheeling down the hill onto a rock. He was immediately taken to hospital and has remained there since. His D8 and D12 vertebrae are the worst affected although thankfully his spinal cord is not damaged.

Dorval AM confirmed last night that Pierron had broken his back in a social media post. They said: "As you may have seen the video on his profile, the crash was ugly and the outcome isn’t great either. Baptiste fractured 4 vertebrae but thankfully didn’t damaged the spinal cord. He will undergo surgery soon but at the moment he is laying out in a hospital bed and he needs all the support and love you can give him"

Pierron, the current European DH champion, was coming into the race after his best-ever result and first World Cup podium in Les Gets where he finished third. He posted about his feelings on the incident before he heads into surgery this week:


bigquotesYou can be so high and come down so low, you can realize your dream one day and lose everything the next day, our sport can be so cruel, everything has changed in seconds, months of work, sacrifice, suffering ... The fall takes everything with it.

I have been lying on my hospital bed since Sunday evening, I cannot get up anymore, my back is affected, the D8 and D12 vertebrae are the most fractured, I have to have an operation during the week, but the wait is endless.

I would have liked to go further in the season, my feelings on the bike were incredible and I love spending time with my team. Thank you all for your messages, you warm my heart

I'll keep you posted quickly.
Baptiste Pierron (translated)

We have reached out to Baptiste for more information and keep you updated with his recovery. In the meantime, we're sending him healing vibes and hope to see him back on the bike soon.


122 Comments

  • 136 1
 Get well soon Baptiste. You were riding amazing this season and although it may now seem far away you'll get back there!
  • 5 0
 Cosigned - Heal up soon!!
  • 3 48
flag scott-townes (Jul 14, 2021 at 11:43) (Below Threshold)
 Just wait for it... ThE COuRSeS ArE ToO GNaRlY !!!! BlAmE EvERyONe!!!!
  • 14 1
 It's actually Outside's fault. He got word mid-run about the Pinkbike merger... Heal up!!!
  • 111 7
 Their poor parents are ageing before our eyes, lol.

Hope Baptiste is ok and his operation / recovery goes well.

Feels like we are moving away from technical riding to just flat out fast open trails with huge gaps. I’m all for progression but just feels this year is way bigger and faster and people are getting into gnarly accidents earlier.

I think Leatt braces need to make a comeback.
  • 37 0
 D8 and D12 are thoracic spine. I'm not a doctor, but the leatt neck braces are generally more for cervical spine protection (aka neck).
  • 4 0
 That was a nutty crash, I don't think they're allowed on course without back protectors, though someone may very well correct me
  • 7 0
 @mnorris122: I would be interested as well to know if he was wearing back protection, just to know what caused such damage.
  • 3 0
 @mnorris122: I think? that the rule in France not sure on other countries
  • 12 0
 @mnorris122: unfortunately I don't think back protectors can do anything for compression fractures. Dunno if that happend here though.
  • 20 0
 @qblambda: yes he was, full body armor, but nothing can prevent compression between the vertaebre.
  • 15 1
 I've broken two fingers, a rib, and torn four ligaments in my ankle (100% do not recommend) in three incidents over nearly thirty years of riding off road. Speed was the common variable there (or rather massive deceleration). I've seen trails evolve from barely rideable hiking trails to purpose built ribbons. Coming off from a crawl is less likely to do much damage, but freak things can happen.
  • 10 2
 @mechaNICK: yeah. Trails are getting faster and faster. I've seen some bikepark jumps on regular easy trails that require 60kph to clear.
  • 4 1
 @mechaNICK: Yep, worst trend ever. No clue how land managers don't see the danger of increased speeds when all they do is cater to other user groups as well.
  • 3 2
 Agree here. Yes he did fracture his Thoracic spine, but if these are burst fractures, a neck brace could have helped as the shock is distributed from the head down until a vertebrae gives in. I had a burst fracture on my T11 with surgery etc along with a few other spinal fractures. When I look at today’s races, it just seems to be getting, faster, looser, bigger and injuries scarier.
  • 7 4
 ya, this is actually one of the times I actually agree with most comments on Pinkbike, yes the speeds and capabilities of the bikes have gone up. I get dirty looks on the trails and DH parks when they see me with very little gear if any, but I don't go nearly as fast as most and still clear all the jumps and drops SAFELY! Technic over speed.

I have had a broken arm, dislocated shoulder, fractured skull, and cracked my pelvis in the past on my motorcycle, yes deceleration caused all the damage. A big reason i don't ride motorcycles anymore is the speed (and more expensive than biking believe it or not).
  • 5 0
 Nobody should wonder why the EWS and other enduro race formats are becoming increasingly more popular among riders and fans. they still have lots of steep and technical trails where precise bike handling is called for and not (only) flat-out maximum high-speed racing combined with huge (blind) gaps...
  • 3 0
 Anytime I need a full face, my Leatt goes on. I know it won’t prevent this sort of injury. An ex broke some of her cervical vertebrae (diving into a shallow pool), and know the long term effects of such an injury on everyday life. They are something I would rather not have to live with.
  • 2 0
 @qblambda: I think he is wearing back protection because in all French DH races it is required
  • 5 3
 Several moto guys are starting to re-think the neck brace thing....it's not total clear if they make a difference. Several moto guys actually think they cause more problems than they solve....the limit mobility in some cases potentially reducing your ability to ride in proper position...thought is, keep yourself as mobile as possible, crash less and get injured less.
  • 7 4
 @RadBartTaylor: yes..crash less, be less injured. Got it.
  • 5 2
 @RadBartTaylor: crash less, what a revolutionary concept!
  • 4 1
 @RadBartTaylor: Wow. "several moto guys", huh? This has been debated for over a decade - nothing new.
  • 5 5
 @Stonerz94: can we all pipe down about “massive” gaps lmao...the f*cking road gap was pedestrian. It had a jank run-in that screwed a few people up, it happens.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: this was noticeable with certain helmets on steep trails an take offs but, with a properly adjusted brace the problem went away
  • 2 2
 @Afterschoolsports: whoosh - missed the concept (completely)
  • 1 0
 @suspended-flesh: most of the debate around it was they don't help and cause more injury....different point than what I called out
  • 1 4
 @zstover: He must not have been wearing a spine protector, something I feel is a must if you're riding DH in rocky terrain. Saved my back at least once. Leatt's are great for neck protection and clavical protection.
  • 4 0
 @SuperHighBeam: doesn’t protect against compression fractures
  • 1 1
 @RadBartTaylor: no I didn’t. It’s just a ridiculous one.
  • 1 2
 the ridiculous point that you should ride in proper position...ok, got it
  • 3 0
 @RadBartTaylor: ridiculous to suggest that my riding posture is compromised because of it, it’s not. and that some other magic posture will result in fewer crashes.
  • 1 1
 @Afterschoolsports: again - look at my first post, I didn't say 100% of the time, but in some cases they absolutely do limit posture....why don't all the top guys use them?
  • 1 0
 @nvranka: So squishing along the length of the spine as opposed to perpendicular to the spine? All depends on when in his fall he hit the rock. He crashed in virtually all possible orientations thanks to that spectacular cartwheel.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: For what its worth back when I rode downhill I found that my leatt conflicted with my pressure suit where in the spine plate would interfere with the spine plate of the leatt, That definitely restricted mobility.
  • 1 0
 @dirtyburger: Agree. I dont think a back protector would do much for most spinal injuries. more for puncture wounds
  • 2 0
 @SuperHighBeam: agree with this some body siutes didnt mix well with neck braces at all BUT they've gotten better since. I've gone through three trying to find one I can ride in. 661 was terrible, leatte mixed with the brace excellently but felt like I had a door strapped to my back! 7idp was excellent in both regards but I can't stand full on siutes. Looking at a vest next like 100% Tarka or Fox
  • 34 0
 The Pierron brothers are having some bad luck and it sucks. Hope they get well soon.
  • 2 14
flag whitebullit (Jul 15, 2021 at 5:46) (Below Threshold)
 theres bad luck and then theres bad genes. these two are constantly broken like there made of glass. at a certain point you gotta realize your body wasnt made to crash.
  • 24 5
 Another week and another racer out due to serious injury. The tracks and the speeds modern bikes can handle now are getting to high. I hate to be an alarmist but I think the sport is going to need to tone down the pure speed element with more turns and obstacles that require athletes to slow down over figuring out an even crazier line to carry speed over it. I recall skis and athletes getting too good for FIS racing about 20 years ago. They toned down what was allowed on skis ( things like the lifter plated under bindings for better leverage) and slowed the speeds ( adding tighter turns ahead of big jump) on WC tracks to make them safer. If this keeps up UCI will start to need to do the same.
  • 13 1
 Going back to more natural tech tracks would be a HUGE win imo
  • 6 1
 I Agree 100% with you, natural and slower tracks would be so much more interesting
However for Baptiste, you can see in the video, this is just a mistake he made, the speed was not that high, sometimes it is just bad luck, and there is not everytime someone to blame
  • 2 0
 @jpnbrider: yeh wasnt really referring to baptiste, agreed
  • 12 2
 Do they wear decent upper body armour? If not it should be compulsory.
Even though I like watching Bernard Kerr's YouTube channel it was pretty poor to see them cutting up bits of flooring to stuff up their jersey's at the last race to fool the officials.
  • 19 0
 In France, for DH racing, Full face helmet, Back protection, Knee/elbow pads and Gloves are compulsory...
  • 2 2
 @Arev: If that is the case, he should be thankful. He'd likely be paralyzed if not for that protection.
  • 4 4
 See him doing that poor stuff laughing show how he is a dick in some aspect, comparable to being antivax as a health worker....dick head!
  • 9 0
 when you have three brothers racing downhill and suddenly only one is able to race... get well soon - bummer after that podium in Les Gets
  • 7 0
 Checkers or wreckers for the Pierrons. I hope they both get better asap... they are both great additions to our sport. They certainly have a different way of calculating risk vs. reward than the rest of field it seems.
  • 6 0
 Damn that was a nasty tumble! Heal up Baptiste. You'll come back stronger than ever.
  • 2 0
 Get well soon and all the best for your recovery. I am impressed about the mature words you could still find in such a situation. Not many would have been this honest and clear to speak out what you as a sportsman are going through right now. True wisdom and true speed - your family will start a dynasty of winners.

And don`t touch the nurse by the purse... Wink
  • 9 8
 What a shocker, heal up boss. Pretty new to MTB (~2yrs) and 2 broken bones already. Fun but pay to play for sure. Any long-haul vets have insight into whether injuries per capita have increased over time due to faster bikes?
  • 18 1
 Not so sure about a per capita increase but it sure seems like injury are getting more severe on average. I think it is because modern bikes and trails offer a lot of false confidence for riders.
  • 19 0
 @mrgill: In my opinion, some of the increase is due to the massive amount of focus on building fast, wide, flow trails and the insane capabilities of modern bikes.

There's a trail they used during a local enduro that is a green for that area. It's not steep, it is very wide, there are no roots, there are no gaps, and no mandatory features. I'm slow AF and hit 25mph on that trail. Speed will mess you up bad. It's not about just washing out and just sliding a bit on a trail like that, its about what stops your body. Basically everything out there is harder than your soft, soft skin and body.

I really have no need to go 25mph on a normal trail ride when I just decided to go out for a pedal in my half shell and knee pads.
  • 11 0
 @mrgill: I think you would need some evidence before you could claim injuries are getting any worse on average. I believe we're hearing about them more.
It's the whole "the world has gone mad" argument. It hasn't gone mad, we just hear about everything now.
  • 10 1
 I have been riding for more than 20 years and have not yet managed to break a bone. The reason for this is the same reason I still kinda suck at riding bikes. I don't push beyond what I am capable of very often. The pro field is getting more competitive every year and so what is required to be win is getting further beyond what is possible to do consistently. Speeds are getting higher and crashes are getting more frequent.
  • 3 0
 @redrook: Yep, so true!
  • 4 0
 It certainly seems like this year has seen an unusually high number of top riders in hospital and out of competition. In DH, Enduro and Freeride. It could be a one-year outlier, though. Not enough information to call it a trend, yet. Wouldn't surprise me to see increasing numbers of severe injuries, though. Speeds are getting faster and speed is the no. 1 cause of damage. Impact energy goes up exponentially with velocity.
  • 25 1
 Y'all where clearly not around in the early days of freeride. Plenty of homies went out for a ride and sustained injuries that prevented them from riding ever again, or reduced capacity of ability to ride hard ever. Lost count how many buds got hauled off the hill in stretchers back then. Pretty much everyday... Them was sketch days. Ghetto builds in the middle of nowhere. On sub par bikes by today's standards. In protection gear that was more or less baseball pads. Also, the machismo attitude back then didn't help. You were a pussy if you wiped out, hit your head. Didn't shotgun a Lucky climb back up into the trees and full send a 2x4 skinny from 30 ft up... Glad them days are over. Accidents today just seem worse because everyone has a cell phone and captures in real ttime. Everything about riding today is 1000x safer then in the 90's. The only real place I see problems is the influx this sport has seen in the last 5 years. Too many over biked, over confident, under skilled riders. Who think because they got a season under their belt and saw a dude do it on the gram. They think they can ride at that level.... They can't. That why medical tents at big bike parks are always full.
  • 3 1
 @mrgill: more that modern trails are much MUCH faster.
  • 3 0
 @OlSkoolJake: ghetto builds and bad jumps were popular but DH racing tracks were not so ghetto and were much slower. Trails where most of us rode were also slower.
  • 5 0
 I think that the biggest factor is speed. A crash is essentially a deceleration to zero speed, so the faster you are going, the more force you will have when you hit the ground. I do that that new style trails are a culprit here. Theyre smooth, and bikes are so good, there isnt that feedback that youre going too fast. rocks and roots and stuff, tight turns, help keep speed in check.
  • 4 0
 Over here in South Aus our race dh series has the usual injuries each round. Say maybe 2 or 3 bones per 200 racers per round. But our big fast open track at willunga is notorious for claiming bikes and bodies. It can easily go two or three times the average, often with us having multiple ambulances and helicopters at the same time. And it's normally much bigger injuries involving spine and neck. So I totally believe that the fast wide open courses play a big part in the increase in injuries. Without trees, judging speed is really bloody hard and people just get insanely confident in speed which leads to disaster when you then hit a rock at 60 to 70 kph.
  • 1 0
 @OlSkoolJake: Fair take. When I was riding in the 90's I didn't even know about freeride, and pushing bikes to their limits just wasn't something you did where I was from. Granted I rode with a bunch of dudes that we road racers. But yeah, today's gear and the exposure to the gnarliest forms of MTB (freeride, downhill racing, etc.) is pushing beginners to take risks we (speaking for myself and the guys I rode with) just didn't take back in the day. When I was learning to mountain bike you were gnarly if you even got out on the trail (at least I thought so).
  • 2 0
 @redrook: I like to say, same shit, different century.

Get well soon Baptiste!
  • 1 1
 @spaced: Yeah... That's solid nah, mate...

Know your roots kids.

youtu.be/jU5BaZG6bTw
  • 3 0
 It is a theory that I had thought of too..Modern bikes are safer and faster. But..the energy in an impact increases quadratically with increasing speed.
Theoretically you should fall less because bikes are safer, but those rare times that it happens you get hurt more: if the speeds are on average higher, the chances of serious accidents when falling will also increase.

The protections help but at certain speeds they can't do that much ..is it more dangerous to do a little dirt jump in the backyard without a helmet or to do a downill race at full speed with all the protections?
  • 4 2
 Speed is the reason why crashes seem to cause a lot of injuries. The force in an impact is calculated by:
F = mass * velocity^2 / (2 * distance traveled during impact)

It’s the squared part that’s important. A small increase in speed leads to a large increase in the forces.
  • 1 3
 @Ttimer: One theory I have is also that these crashes are related to COVID and the reduced amount of races.
Maybe the pros engaged a little more, to be sure to get some visibility from these few races.
Maybe because they raced less, they are not in the right mindset.
  • 2 0
 @Patrick9-32: It took me twenty five years of rugby, climbing, surfing, American football as well as MTB before I broke my first bone and the effects of the injury will be with me forever. I'm not what you'd call a particularly fast rider.
  • 3 1
 @labourde: IDK, 2019 was not going very well either. I think this is a real issue, mostly to do with modern trail design and modern bikes that maybe inspire too much confidence.
  • 3 0
 @Torbo24: You're right. Energy is proportional to speed squared. So going 25 mph has 4x the energy as 12.5 mph. In my neck of the woods there's a trail everyone likes to absolutely pin it on and the speeds can get up to 30 mph. It's not a particularly technical trail but the number of guys who have had the PR to ER or Hero to Zero crash on it is just way too many. It's counter intuitive but the super steep chunky trails usually have lower speeds so even though you might fall more often, your speed is like half of what it would be on the easier more wide open trails.
  • 1 0
 @tsn73: Yes exactly! Im in the NE, and thats one of the things i appreciate about our steep rocky awkward stuff
  • 2 0
 Was he wearing a back protection interested to know as if he was and he’s still really injured that changes the confidence you should put on it
  • 2 1
 There are other ways to injure the back besides impact, such as Chance fractures.
  • 1 0
 I have broeken my ribs wearing a full bodyarmor. Nothing you can do about that. It is strange that the backprotector did not protect his back. If it is in a race it is mandatory. Heal up soon.
  • 4 0
 If it's a compression fracture, back protection will do nothing.
  • 1 1
 This sport has gone to far I havnt raced in five years because I fractured my l5 racing downhill and if ur not willing to push urself to the limit u can't even compete at all .....since I have broke my back it seems like the past 4 years or so competion has got so tough everyone breaks there back pushing them selves to hard to be the best it seems like .....like every week a new pro with fractured spine it's insane
  • 3 1
 The pressure is on for Antoine! Poor Pierron family. Heal up. Spinal cord is okay, that's what matters most.
  • 1 0
 Of course but a return to racing at that level if he needs a fusion will be very difficult! Fingers crossed for him. I have 5 broken vertebrae right now from a crash but luckily did not need surgery. I wish him the best. Hopefully they weren’t burst fractures.
  • 4 0
 ET MERDE!!!!!!
  • 2 1
 Is the back protection technology sufficient? Are these impacts so great that no current protectors are up to the task?
Anyone have a clue?
  • 1 0
 Back protectors really only do one thing: disperse the force of an impact. Keep in mind they’re usually to a CE standard, and most mountain bike protectors are offered in the lower (level 1) standard. Not sure which one he was wearing on that day. But either way, I believe this was a compression fracture, so a back protector would have had a negligible effect on safety in that case. Could he have sustained more injuries had he not worn it? I have no clue, maybe.
  • 4 2
 Downhill racing seems to be increasing in danger recently with the high speeds, win or die tryin
  • 1 1
 Pay to play.
  • 1 0
 Isn't it T8 and T12 (ie thoracic 8 and 12)? I know there are language differences, but isn't it from the latin, and hence universal for medical terms?
  • 2 0
 Some countries refer to it as Dorsal #
  • 3 0
 Dang, looked he was riding the bait bike tied to a tree!
  • 1 2
 Savage!

At least when he heals up and looks back he can say he had the last racer injury report of the BO era.




#BEFOREOUTSIDE
  • 1 0
 Healing vibes. Seeing him do this wearing armor and watching kids go race run speed at the bikepark in a t-shirt just blows my mind.
  • 1 0
 This is just wrong too many people are getting injured, and the way I've seen Daprela ride... i hope nothing bad happens but i that's the formula for catastrophe.
  • 2 0
 At this rate we'll run out of Pierrons or this there an Osmondesque endless supply (Crazy Horses Whaaa Whaaa)?
Heal fast.
  • 2 1
 When I see on video all these crashes where riders are seriously injured, I am sure that the damage would not be the same if they all had flat pedals..
  • 3 0
 Healing vibes!
  • 3 0
 Courage Baptiste !
  • 2 0
 Pierrons getting it rough this year
  • 1 0
 I’m assuming his injury was t8-t12? Not sure where d8 and d12 are in the spinal column
  • 1 0
 Surely we now want to see riders wearing protection? It's not cool to be in a wheelchair for the rest of ur life!
  • 1 0
 sports give you and take away from you, get well soon
  • 1 0
 Those Commencal boys are gnarly AF get well soon bro!
  • 1 0
 healup! you were one of my fav underdogs this season!
  • 1 0
 All the best dude....heal up well
  • 1 0
 I'm not watching that vid. Heal soon and healing vibes to you Smile
  • 1 0
 oh no!
  • 2 1
 anyways...
  • 1 0
 Heal up soon buddy
  • 1 2
 Stop DH and be safe, life gives Warning
  • 2 5
 D8 and D12 aren't a thing. It's T8 and T12 as in thoracic.
  • 11 0
 Learn french and then come back ;-)... Joke aside, for us french T8 and T12 as in thoracic is D8 and D12 as in dorsale.
  • 6 0
 @Ricolaburle: lol, let's all make fun of the non-french speaking Canadian.
  • 2 0
 @zstover: There's a lot of those here.
  • 4 0
 I don't mean any disrespect whatsoever when I say that you are well on your way to completing your PB Medical Residency and will be a full-fledged member of the Commenter, MD community! I am currently doing coursework to become a Pinkbike Epidemiologist.
  • 1 0
 ‍♂️
  • 2 0
 @Ricolaburle @suspended-flesh: LOL. Am a physician. Don't speak French.
  • 2 0
 @obliquemountain: Busted! - sry, doc.
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: Dorsal and Thorax are both from Latin so it's odd that there's no agreement on which to use.
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