Damien Oton Suffers Broken Back in Training Crash

May 24, 2019 at 9:12
by James Smurthwaite  
Warning: graphic content.

[Failed to load Instagram embed]
Damien Oton has suffered a broken back while on a training ride yesterday. Oton, with two career EWS wins and a Megavalanche win, posted a video on Instagram earlier today that showed a wrecked Fox helmet and blood coming from his head. It sounds like a branch caught in his front wheel and he landed with his back on a stump.

This is Damien's second big injury of the year as he broke his scaphoid while training for Rotorua and missed the first two EWS rounds. Damien is heading home tomorrow to see if he needs surgery, there's no word yet on how long he expects to be out for but has said he intends to be back racing as soon as possible.

bigquotesHad a big one yesterday, my Fox helmet probably saved my life. The result is not great I have a broken back so I have to rest for a little while (again)... Unlucky as f*ck cause a branch came into my front wheel then I went over the bar where a big stump was waiting for my vertebrae. Gonna be hard for sure and I’m devastated but I’ll be back racing ASAP. Gutted for all the people behind me sponsors, friends, family, love you guysDamien Oton

Healing vibes go out to Damien. We hope he makes a speedy recovery and that we'll see him back on the bike soon.


  • 588 3
 From all the team here at Devinci, best wishes for a speedy recovery. We're behind you Damien. Healing vibes.
  • 27 669
flag scott-townes (May 24, 2019 at 11:32) (Below Threshold)
 Its spelled da Vinci.
  • 167 12
 Stupidest comment ever and completely unnecessary @scott-townes:
  • 32 2
 All the best to Damien. Wish him a speedy and full recovery
  • 26 234
flag NYShred (May 24, 2019 at 12:07) (Below Threshold)
 "but WAIT! I have to take a pic first for social media to prove it actually happened!!" - noone cares dude. Get to the hospital and heal up. What are you thinking??
  • 63 2
 The usage you're looking for is "it's", Leonardo.
  • 19 46
flag RedBurn (May 24, 2019 at 15:35) (Below Threshold)
 I wonder if this would have been any less serious with a FF helmet. Too late now of course but maybe a good lesson for the future, good recovery
  • 15 2
 @RedBurn: @RedBurn: He broke his back and is claiming his current helmet did a pretty good job of managing the impact. Not quite sure what a FF helmet would do for the spine... Sucks huge for Damien- hope the recovery goes well and you are back riding soon!
  • 5 0
 @RedBurn: probably not because it happened on the top of his head, ya know, the exact same spot a half shell covers.
  • 49 23
 @scott-Townes you are an absolute scumbag. We’ve seen you on here showing support for Trump, and generally being a c*nt at every opportunity. You deserve a total ban just for being a waste of life
  • 7 4
 nice guy @deadtime here with the love and positivity, changing minds and telling it how it is
  • 4 2
 @NYShred: although the you've had the big hate.. you do have a very good point
  • 20 53
flag scott-townes (May 25, 2019 at 6:40) (Below Threshold)
 @deadtime: I've got so many questions.

1. Who is this "We" you're referring to? Are you part of an old men with small dicks club that meets every Wednesday to discuss how the internet made you angry?

2. "We've seen you on here showing support for Trump" Interesting, please show me these posts. If its as common as you say, it shouldn't take you long. I'll wait.

3. You're calling another PB member a "scumbag" and a "c*nt" and then state the person you're verbally abusing should be banned... That doesn't seem very logical. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

4. You're 50 years old and you're getting so upset by a forum that you're resorting to stalking and name calling. Aren't you a tad old to be acting like a teenage incel?

5. Is 50 the new 13?
  • 7 13
flag kubaner (May 25, 2019 at 8:59) (Below Threshold)
 Scott Townes may be a little rough around the edges but Deadtime is just a whiny bitch. Regurgitated insults
  • 7 9
 @deadtime: “We’ve seen you on here showing support for Trump” ha ha ha now that’s a funny comment, I think Your president Trump supports free speech. Scott-Townes has the most props for 3 words that have nothing to do with the article. Winner winner chicken dinner, all you haters with thin skin suck it. Speedy recovery Damien.
  • 6 16
flag deadtime (May 26, 2019 at 5:36) (Below Threshold)
 @bikeetc: nope, he doesn’t support free speech, he supports racism “there were fine people on both sides”, he also supports paying whores from the Oval Office, and telling his lawyer to lie about it (Cohen is in jail for that lie), he also supports sexual assault, as we heard his own tiny mouth say “...just grab em by the pussy...”. He also supports rape, such as the time his first wife filed in court that he raped and beat her after getting a painful hair-tuck from her doctor. He also supports obstructing justice as the 10 examples the Mueller Report proves. You support him. You support rape, and lying, and paying whores from the Oval Office, and promoting racism. That’s what you support on Memorial Day weekend, a drug addict who lied to avoid the draft, like a pussy, just like you. Go f*ck yourself bitch.
  • 6 5
 @deadtime: I'm still waiting for you to point out where I've supported Trump as you claimed.
  • 3 3
 @deadtime: ha ha ha, more funny shit. “Make Pink Bike great again” tough guy.
  • 6 1
 @deadtime: Everyone's first pick for a riding buddy. Do you ever wonder why no one is at the trailhead when you show up for a ride? You just exude kindness and charisma.
  • 2 8
flag deadtime (May 28, 2019 at 4:09) (Below Threshold)
 @willycpc: aww, did I provide too many facts about Trump you can’t deny? You support a rapist. Have any daughters?
  • 4 2
 @deadtime: Find my pro-Trump posts yet? I'll bet you a stack of Depends that you won't find any. Come on, we know your crusty, social warrior ass could use them.
  • 1 3
 @scott-townes: or you could just say whether you have or still do support him. Most of you cowards have learned that PB and the entire world knows Trump is scum, and that has shut up most of you losers and closet-racists for awhile now. So let’s hear it, is he your boy? We already know you fit the profile of a c*nt
  • 2 3
 @scott-townes: Its just evident in your mentality and comments in general that proves that you dry hump stuffed animals with Trumps face on them.
  • 5 1
 @deadtime: Childish and baseless insults towards people you don't know, check. Lack of facts or reasoning, check. An old man obsessed with what people say on the internet and getting upset over it, check. For hating Trump you love acting like him. Nice job, I bet your neglected kids and grand-kids are proud of you.

I'll write again, you posted stating I love Trump and I've made comments stating this. I asked for these posts and yet you have not delivered. Just like Trump, you cannot produce any facts to back up your idiotic statements. Nice job.
  • 1 1
Devinci: "Our team rider got hurt, safe and fast recovery!"

Y'all are childish.
  • 2 0
 @aharms: I was accused of something false. You're targeting your manufactured outrage at the wrong person. Now go back to recording every ride because as you know, if you don't record it, it never happened.
  • 1 0
 @scott-townes: At least those Strava rides show some KOMs. Don't you have something better to do than defending yourself from nobodies on the internet? Just let it go, man.

I could come up with a retort, but....meh. This crap ain't worth the effort. Have a nice day! Don't be so hot tempered.

Admittedly, I should have aimed that comment at @deadtime
  • 98 3
 Good thing he had a proper helmet on! Yet another example of why you shouldn’t skimp on brain buckets! Get well soon Damien!
  • 45 26
 That's a fallacy. Spending more money on a helmet does not guarantee more protection. The highest-rated helmet in Virginia Tech's impact test was a $75 lid from Lazer. Do your research before buying a helmet, but don't expect it to save you from a concussion or worse.
  • 50 1
 @spankthewan: $75 wouldn't be skimping...$75 is not the most expensive, but that's still some good money. What he said is not a fallacy, it's very true, a $15 department store helmet would be skimping, maybe that's what logcabm77 meant.
  • 27 6
Just don't think that a $250 POC is going to be any safer because it was more expensive.
  • 13 63
flag rexluthor (May 24, 2019 at 10:41) (Below Threshold)
 @tcamp86: with all due respect, I don't think the construction of a $20 walmart lid is any different than a $100+ name brand.

Until helmets can actually slow the head down prior to the sudden stop that is impact, they will continue to do well to protect from penetrating injury but not much else.
  • 30 1
 @rexluthor: concussions aren’t penetrating injuries. Helmets are shown to reduce concussions. The foam compresses and cracks, that dissipates forces and slows the head more than just slamming the object.

Are you actually saying that you think walmart helmets use the exact same construction as, say, a troy lee A2 mips? Because the A2 has a hard outer shell, dense foam, softer foam, and then the mips layer, each with some scientific backing for dissipating different types of force.
  • 8 2
 @rexluthor: Helmets have protected me from more than penetrating injuries plenty of times. I suffered a compression fracture of three vertebrae whilst wearing a decent Giro helmet. I don't like to think what may have happened if I'd been wearing a Walmart lid.
  • 4 1
 @rexluthor: A huge part of what helmets do is slow down the impact, both compressive dissipation and newer technology, like MIPS, deflect impact away from the the wearer's head
  • 4 1
 @metaam: That sounds gnarly and I’m sure it was very unpleasant. Hope you’ve healed well.

However, what effect do you suppose your helmet had on the outcome of your accident?
  • 2 1
 @Linkpin: I went OTB into a gully about 10 feet below the trail and landed on my head. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have survived without a helmet, and I probably wouldn't be walking if I'd been wearing a budget lid.
  • 4 0
 @dsellinger: I do... Sure name brands come with higher price tags, but they also come with more R&D and better materials. I truly hope your $15 helmet protects you if you go down.
  • 3 2
 @tcamp86: There was another test of motorcycle helmets years ago. And one of the best results came from a Walmart Helmet.

And it was stated that because it did not try to meet a higher standard(Snell over DOT) the helmet worked better in real life situations/impacts. Note that it was a plastic shell helmet rather than fibre glass.

So this was a situation where paying more for a race helmet actually was worse than a cheap minimum standard helmet.

The report went on the state in real life situations you should not be wearing a helmet designed for race speed if you are only going legal road speeds.

Which then makes me wonder if bicycle helmets are the same. Will a DH helmet protect me more or less than a cross country helmet(assuming not a hit to the face) in the kind of riding I do(50 YO who has to work on Monday).
  • 5 0
 Any thoughts on spine protection? Some of these trails are insane then add the speed these pros travel at. Went for a ride with the gf last night in whistler valley and lots of the trails are more sketchy then in the bike park yet we only ride with armour in the park. I think we will start wearing the armour outside of the park too. The pedal is gonna suck though. Get well soon!
  • 3 0
 @fabwizard: Fullface absolutely protects better than an XC lid. It's all about compromises imo. I hold back a fair bit with an XC lid on....as all my major crashes on the DH bike with Fullface have still given me scars on and about the chin/lips...we are, or can, still get into plenty of trouble on these modern XC/Enduro rigs especially if you're used to DH speeds...making the use of XC lids kinda nuts really...but pedaling in a FF sucks so bad, haha...compromises.
I also think the more you spend...what you're really paying for(besides fashion taxes) is levels of comfort??? So lighter/better fits/material feel...but essentially the same level of protection across the board...ish
  • 1 0
 @metaam: Urgh, that sounds rough.

It sounds like your head was protected by the helmet. What I wasn’t clear about was your reference to vertebrae damage and how you think your helmet stopped that from being worse.
  • 2 1
 @Linkpin: As I said, I landed on my head. The shock of the impact met the momentum of the fall in the thoracic region of my back, causing the compression fractures. Had the helmet not helped in dissipating the impact, the fractures would likely have been worse, probably resulting in severe spinal cord damage.
  • 1 0
 @dsellinger: don't ruin this for me,bro
  • 2 0
 @dsellinger: foam helmets that you can press flat with just your foot should not be on your head.
  • 1 0
 Check out POC’s new modular VPD chest/back protection. Looks like it may be slightly less heinous to wear on climbs.

  • 1 1
 @SlipperySEAL: Most people don't realize how little helmets are designed to protect.

When i was racing motorcycles i was totally dismayed to find out that a DOT helmet was designed to protect from only a 5 ft fall and Snell 8ft. Pretty sure that travelling at 275 kph would be much more force than an 8ft fall(if i hit something, rather than just falling down).

To answer your statement above, that is how helmets dissipate force they are designed to crush instead of your head. If they were solid they would transmit all the force to your head.
  • 2 0
 @fabwizard: the helmet is designed to take the hit from the initial fall off your bike, say 5ft from your head to the deck, after that it has done its job. I dont think any helmet is going to be much use if you hit something at 270kph
  • 1 0

I had a big crash with my enduro motorcycle, was wearing a Fox helmet v2....the visor does not give with this one. I'm glad it broke away a bit anyway, Hurted my neck really bad, but with my old budget helmet I presume it would be much worse. I'm glad I spent some money on a decent helmet….I never saved on money on protection….getting older Smile After this I decided to buy a Leatt fullface helmet with a visor that breaks when crashing...for my dirtbike but also useable for mtb. I also bought a Leatt mtb enduro helmet because their story made sense to me. Tests just test a few criteria, there are brands out there who push beyond that. Leatt has me convinced…Not a fanboy but just a choice after a big crash that could have me left much more severely injured.
  • 1 0
 @loopie: Depends on the pedaling, if long stint on a fire road - full face lid comes off and straps to the side of my backpack. If on a tech level part of a difficult trail - not to much of a bother. Add a head sweat band and rinse water through it before putting it on if you are hot. Keeps sweat out of your eyes and keeps you relatively cool.

Also why I like to have a backpack/hydration pack. When I have come off and landed on my back - it's not so much of an issue. You do get sweaty down the spine though but the price you pay.

Hope Damien heals up ok and soon. Nasty fall.
  • 3 0
 @chinaboy: it's why I always ride with a Camelbak. That water bladder plus the hard foam backing has saved my back twice this season. Of course there is the protective vest from Alpinestars too.
  • 43 0
 Holy shit. That's a super scary way to crash too. Heal quickly!
  • 15 9
 This is why I'm an advocate for disc wheels bring them back. Jking we all crash rest up get strong and get back out there.
  • 6 5
 @youknowitsus: I was being completely ridiculous and trying to bring a little comedy.

I guess that was lost on pb.
  • 3 1
 @reverend27: nah, probably just someone confused as to the difference between a disc wheel and a disk *brake* wheel. I'm old enough to remember them. I'm with ya, time to make a comeback! #discaintdead
  • 4 21
flag nickkk (May 24, 2019 at 12:12) (Below Threshold)
 @reverend27: "jking we all crash rest up get strong and get back out there"

Hillarious. GFYS and learn that there's a time to joke and there's a time to shut up. The guy sustained a serious head injury and broke his back.
  • 5 0
 @nickkk: ya I was talking about the disc aero wheels that were around in the 90s. Impossible to get a stick stuck in it.

But ya maybe too soon. I'm autistic my timings a little off.
  • 9 1
 @nickkk: dude, don’t be so sure someone in recovery doesn’t appreciate a bit of humour. I’m not speaking for Damien, but humour has been one of the few things that made extended hospital stays bareable in my experience. Jokes about hospital food are never funnier than when you hear them while eating hospital food.
  • 1 1
 @nickkk: Upvoted and agreed.
  • 22 0
 Either training has stepped up a notch this year or someone’s put a curse on ews riders.....
  • 1 0
 You could say the same about the Women's DH this year too Frown
  • 11 0
 Get healed up soon Damien! What a year....
  • 8 0
 Dang. That helmet is a huge bright side in a really unfortunate situation. Heal up well brother.
  • 8 0
 Healing vibes to you Damien....we are all with you as you work back to full health!!
  • 6 0
 Wow that's unlucky.
I was there when you won the Mega!
(only 140 places back hahaha)
Followed your racing for a long time.
Healing vibes from the UK
  • 2 0
 To all the "what good does a helmet do for a spine injury" geniuses out here: Maybe, just MAYBE he's implying that he could have been looking at a spine injury AND a brain injury, but he doesn't have the brain injury because of the helmet. IDK, maybe I'm crazy...
  • 5 0
 damn!!! get well soon! ews in-juro season continues!!
  • 1 0
 I have been thinking of a better way to slow your head down before an impact....helmet chutes that deploy a few nano secs before the impact happens. Just pull a chute release handle that hangs off the front of the helmet.Tried and tested in my mind.
  • 1 0
 When i read those comments, then i Just remember my first FF helmet is a cheap second hand 661 comp with wallmart knee & elbow protectors but they protect me from nasty crash & endo as well as a “noob rider” and yeah i manage to upgrade to TLD D3, Airoh Aviator, 100% aircraft, Spez dissident, Leatt DB5, alpinestars moab, dainese knee guard & leatt dbx neckbraces yeah pinkbike commenters always right!
  • 2 0
 Speedy recovery mate...the aftermath looks really scary. Thankfully you are a BEAST and I'm sure you will be pedaling again soon.
  • 2 0
 Damn! Heal up soon (and completely) Damien! Sux to see that type of carnage up close
  • 3 1
 Healing vibes brother. Let's pray to the mountain God's for a full recovery.
  • 3 0
 Holy shit... glad hes alive
  • 2 0
 Caralho!! Que porrada... All the best for you Damien. Take your time to recover properly.
  • 4 1
 Fuck. Hoping for a fast and good recovery.
  • 1 0
 Heal up Damien! You may have saved some lives by posting this. This sport gives us so much, but it can take away so much in a moment. I'm glad you were wearing your helmet.
  • 2 1
 Man. So sorry to hear this happen. Hope you recover well and stay positive!
  • 2 0
 Very lucky, while experiencing misfortune!
  • 3 1
 holy shit dude - wishing ya a speedy recovery !
  • 2 0
 Unluck at its worst! Keep cool and strong!
  • 1 0
 Damn! looks brutal. I'm sure your sponsors will stand behind you through a speedy recovery!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Same helmet saved me big time a few weeks ago.
  • 2 0
 ¡millora't aviat Damien!
  • 1 0
 Scary stuff for sure!! Is anyone going to be left to compete in EWS by the end of the season?
  • 2 0
 WTF, did he go head to head with a Buffalo?
  • 2 1
 Holly fuck ,that was hard ,heal up ssssslllllooooooowwwwwwww,and then start smashing again
  • 1 0
 Aïe!!! Sorry mec. Hope you`ll recover well and come back as soon as possible. Bon courage!! Smile
  • 1 0
 I hoping for you that you don't need surgery, Damien. Heal up and get some spine protection to ride with from now on.
  • 2 1
 Ouch! Probably concussed as well.
  • 1 0
 Heal up quick. Glad it wasn't worse!
  • 1 0
 Poor lad, Get well soon pal!
  • 1 0
 Holy shit ! Good recovery !
  • 1 0
 Holy moly, good you're "safe" wish you fast recovery
  • 1 0
 Sh*t Eek This is scary!!! Heal up soon!
  • 1 0
 Man that sucks!! Hope ACC looks after you well.
  • 1 0
 Dio prete!!! Get well soon Damien!
  • 1 0
 Those fox helmets just seem to implode.
  • 1 0
 heal up quick, man.
  • 1 1
 Sempre endavant ! Mai morirem !
  • 1 0
 Get well soon man!
  • 1 0
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