Video: Behind the Scenes of Jolanda Neff's Career Threatening Crash in Pisgah

Apr 7, 2020 at 2:37
by James Smurthwaite  

A new web series is kicking off that's set to follow Jolanda Neff through her year. It kicks off with her wintering in Pisgah, North Carolina with the Shaw family, picking up groceries, buying a dirt bike and enjoying American life.

Unfortunately, her stay in the USA came to a difficult end as she crashed while filming, and ended up intensive care with potentially life-threatening injuries. Thankfully she is on the road to recovery now and you can read our in-depth interview with her later this week.


bigquotesThis new docu-series produced by Steel City Media, aims to give the audience a true insight into what Jolanda and friends get up to both on and off the bike, keeping things fun, fast and fresh, between the tape and during her ‘off’ season.

With the current Covid-19 crisis forcing wreaking havoc across the globe, the first round of the UCI XCO World Cup at Nova Mesto was cancelled and the Olympics postponed, leaving plenty of unknowns for the rest of the 2020 season.

Episode one kicks things off by rewinding back to December 2019. Walking the audience through Jolanda’s potentially life threatening crash out in Pisgah Forest and the initial aftermath, with the start of her long road to recovery. But on a much lighter note, we dive into her first season with Trek Factory Racing, the ups and downs of racing in 2019, the purchase of her first dirt bike, moto-pacing with Luca back in North Carolina, grocery shopping?! And much more…

We wish Jolanda all the best on her continued road to recovery.


104 Comments

  • 193 36
 I feel bad for the production team. I can picture making the pitch to spend a year following around Jolanda Neff as she prepares for the Olympics. She takes on the World Cup circuit and the World Championships, then heads to Tokyo to compete for the ultimate prize - an Olympic gold medal. There's so much potential drama as she goes through the highs and lows of an Olympic year. Then she suffers a serious injury, but that's OK, because it adds drama to the production. Will she recover on time? Tune in next week to find out...

Meanwhile, in China, some guy eats a bat.
  • 131 4
 Knock it off with the misinformation. It was Ozzy that ate bats.
  • 13 2
 @onemind123: You had me in the first half...not gonna lie
  • 3 5
 yeah sure "eats"
  • 7 0
 @onemind123: he didn’t eat the bat....just bit its head off....
  • 4 2
 worst,it was a barely cooked bat's head..
  • 56 0
 Lady In the Shop: “we now know someone famous”
Luca thinking: “yeah, only been shopping here for years, thanks!”
  • 49 12
 She was freaking ripping pre-crash. I know that the other XC girls can ride, but I would be curious to see if training with Luca would end up giving her an edge over Kate on the more technically difficult modern XC tracks.
  • 129 14
 She was doing just fine pre-Luca. If anyone is to thank for for her skills today, it's the Swiss grass roots scene and junior development programs that have been in place since the mid-90s and have produced one of the deepest talent pools in the sport.

Yes, Nino and Jolanda are currently at the top and in the spotlight, but as Flückiger and Forster have shown over the last year, the next generation is here and ready to deliver. Look to Sina Frei to do the same in the women's field in the next years.

It's actually even worse than saying Rachel Atherton is only fast because she rode with Dan and Gee all the time.
  • 28 3
 I would love to see Kate/Neff/Batty do an EWS just to see how they do. They rip on hardtails and XC bikes. I bet they could freaking shred on long travel niners.
  • 16 0
 @pensamtb: That's fair. She's clearly skilled as hell. I do wonder how much of an advantage being a ripping descender in XC has vs. just being able to crank out the watts. It seems that the descending and technical skills have gotten way more important in modern XC.
  • 9 0
 It might more equitable then, to suggest that XC riders training with DH racers is good for their craft.
  • 10 0
 @fullendurbro: It would be pretty awesome to see how competitive the top XC races would be in an EWS race. I bet they'd be on the pointy end.
  • 4 24
flag jorgeposada (Apr 7, 2020 at 9:30) (Below Threshold)
 They need to build some jumps in Pisgah, flow tracks get boring.
  • 12 1
 Jolanda was already one of the best on the downhills in XC before dating Luca. Safe to say she was already ripping. Watch some XC world cups and you'll see her gaining ground when the terrain points down.
  • 9 0
 Your bike skills can only get better in Pisgah. The terrain there is pretty gnarly.
  • 4 1
 @Hogfly: Some of the riders have the skills. Believe MVP planned on doing some races this year.
  • 27 2
 @jorgeposada: Jumps are for flow tracks. Pisgah isn't a bike park.
  • 3 2
 @jorgeposada: Avery Creek
  • 40 6
 @pensamtb: Why does it seem to offend people that suggestion of a known training partner who is faster than them pushing them to be better at a specific discipline is somehow an insult? Is it the male/female thing and we have to be politically correct? OK, well my wife has been doing HIIT training for 2 years, she is much better than me at it. Recently I have been training with her, generally not able to keep up but it has been pushing me to be better and stronger. My body is changing and so are my skills, I thank her. Is it less offensive now because its a woman pushing a man to be better?
  • 16 6
 @Hogfly , no definitely not. There's no way training with a downhill pro would help her on the descents. It's just coincidental. Just like its coincidental that Hillary and Bill Clinton are both in politics or that Colin Hanks is an actor..similar to his father Tom. These are all just unbelievable coincidences.
  • 3 10
flag jorgeposada (Apr 7, 2020 at 12:13) (Below Threshold)
 @danielsapp: Jumps are options on any track. Riding flow trails gets boring for some people.
  • 16 1
 @jorgeposada: When you get bored, you can ride elsewhere, like a bike park or bike-specific trails. Pisgah is a multi-use National forest where hikers, runners, horse people, hunters, and others often share many of the the same trails. It's not bike-specific - gotta keep all user groups compatible.
  • 18 10
 @yupstate: not offended at all and not about being politically correct/about gender, either.

I just think it’s short-sighted and somewhat disrespectful to say that a proven world class athlete, with more championships to her name than I can count, in multiple disciplines, and a lifetime of hard work behind her is boiled down to the marginal benefits of spending her free time with someone that can ride his bike down a hill pretty fast. That’s all.
  • 4 0
 La Bresse 2018. Nuff said.
  • 13 0
 @pensamtb: I didn't intend my initial comment as disrespectful. I'm aware of Neff's pedigree and credentials, which exceed Luca's by quite a bit. I just find how people choose to spend their offseason interesting: tweaks in their routines, training, etc.. I found it interesting that she chose to hang in Pisgah, ride motos and gnarly downhill shit and "Have fun." That to me indicates that she's maybe more interested in tweaking her top speed and descending skills this off season than upping her FTP. I'm not trying to say, "Awww.. she sure is going to get better now that she's learning how to descend from her man."
  • 5 0
 @danielsapp: horse people?why is this the first time i've heard of this. You mean lime a centaur?
  • 4 2
 @pensamtb: That's not what @Hogfly said...didn't even imply that. So no reason to get worked up about it.
  • 3 1
 @pensamtb: Great comment - but Flückiger is only a couple years younger than Nino, and Jolanda only just turned 27. She's been dominating so long, it's easy to forget that she's not much older than Kate Courtney and still in the early part of her prime (health willing).
  • 3 0
 @dj100procentenduro: Iseewhatyoudidthere Smile
  • 13 0
 @pensamtb:

"not offended at all and not about being politically correct/about gender, either."

Meanwhile in reality you had just said,

"It's actually even worse than saying Rachel Atherton is only fast because she rode with Dan and Gee all the time."

So which one is it? By the way. Claudio did NOT say Rachel was only fast because of her bros, but he did dismiss her skills somewhat and he caught reasonable heat for it. Go and read or watch it, he said "of course that helps" Your twisting reality to suit your memory.

Anyone who acts like someone can't learn from another with superior skills obviously has never pushed themselves. I bet Luca has learned a TON from Jolanda as well.. duh

So no, @hogfly saying perhaps she'd have an edge in technical terrain by learning from a top DH'er is not worse than some made up gender based hypothetical that you've posed.
  • 3 0
 @fullendurbro: Neff would absolutely destroy the other two. I think she would do well in EWS altho she'd have to bulk up a bit first.
  • 4 0
 @pensamtb: well, leave gender apart then: do you see how any person would benefit of riding with another person who is faster in every downhill? I certainly do.
I can also see the benefit the dh person would have of training with a XC world champ.
  • 4 0
 @ismasan: I believe she posted some things last year about Luca doing some local XC races and having good results. I'm sure they both have become more well rounded riders from each other.
  • 6 0
 @pensamtb: Rachel is fast because she has trained and ridden with her brothers all these years and she has said so herself in interviews. I’m sure Jolanda’s downhill skills have gotten better as a result of training with one of the top WCDH racers. There is nothing wrong saying that either. Anyone who trains and rides with a top WCDH racer is for sure going to get better and faster DH.
  • 5 0
 @pensamtb: yea it's totally impossible that regular riding with a top 20 DHer helped improve her skills. That's sexist! And totally impossible only her swiss coaches and other XC riders can improve her DH skills. Lmfao. Gtfo.
  • 1 7
flag jorgeposada (Apr 8, 2020 at 6:09) (Below Threshold)
 @sapp: Yes welcome to the world young man , I ride anywhere I want. Big thanks hahahahah.
  • 2 2
 @yupstate: because people only say it about female riders
  • 2 2
 @clink83: Not true at all. If I saw Keegan Swinson training with Ed Masters, I would certainly make a very similar observation.
  • 2 2
 @clink83: Yea I'm not sure that's actually true. The point is any rider training with someone superior to them. It pushes them to be better. Male/Female, Female/Male, Male/Male, Female/Female. I'm sticking with my political correctness run-a-muck theory.
  • 1 1
 @yupstate: "Michael, do not let your imagination run amuck."

"Run what?"

"Out of control. Don't let your imagination run out of control."

Later: "It's too late to undo it. I need to know. Otherwise this thing is going to spiral out of amuck."
  • 18 0
 Great first video, I love the vibe!

You know in Ingles Luca is thinking, “What the hell, I’m famous and come here all the time!!!”
  • 10 0
 Ran into these younguns last summer @ Dupont. They came out the bottom of Ridgeline like they were shot out of a cannon. Still took the time to chat, not at all like some of the folks you cross paths with that are too fit, fast and focused to look eye and acknowledge the presence of a member of the great unwashed. Lookin forward to the next video and seein 'em out on the local trails!!
  • 13 0
 Brevard Ingles FTW.
  • 5 0
 It's no Thrills River concept store but it's pretty great.
  • 3 0
 @danielsapp: the MotherIngles.
  • 2 0
 @SketchyD: Every time I visit I am blown away by the selection at Ingles. The one in Cashiers has a stunning cheese selection.
  • 2 0
 they're happy just to serve someone NOT from florida ;-)
  • 2 0
 @danielsapp: At MR they have the F’Real milkshake machine. Fo Real.
  • 2 0
 @bandit350: They had gelato first too...side note, have you gone for the breakfast special there yet? Eggs, bacon, and tots for under $3.
  • 4 0
 @danielsapp:

You dudes have no idea how excited I am we're discussing Mills River Ingles on Pinkbike. It's my home Ingles.
  • 2 0
 @SketchyD: Me too, it's pretty relevant. The layout is more COVID friendly than Brevard since it has wider isles. You're lucky to call it your go-to.
  • 2 0
 @danielsapp: I feel like I’ve been missing out on that one. That may be my pre-fishing routine now.
Change of topic but w/ all the closures maybe individual trash pickup would be very beneficial for Mills River. I fished the section near the dam (before you get to the horse trailer pull off) a few times recently. I filled the back of my vehicle with all kinds of trash. It seems like a lot is coming from the campground. I pulled multiple chairs, laundry baskets, beer cans, Bojangles cups (of course), etc.
  • 11 0
 Can never leave girls alone, you never know how many dirtbikes they'll come home with....wait, what?
  • 3 5
 9:09 eyes on the clutch as she eases it out into traffic without a helmet without glancing at the road. If that car were 3 seconds faster it would have been a nasty clip.
  • 2 1
 @keen515: I know - was thinking the same thing when I saw that!
  • 10 1
 Downhill/ Enduro speeds from a XC racer, she is on another level from the rest of her competition. So fast!
  • 8 6
 > she is on another level from the rest of her competition

Not really. You're underestimating the XC field.
  • 9 1
 @tempest3070: not really. She’s considerably faster on the descents than her competitors
  • 9 0
 @chrisclifford: You're both kinda right. Jolanda is a ripper, but I remember watching, I think, La Bresse in 2017 where she was slipping and sliding like a mad woman but not really gaining any time on Catharine Pendrel on the descents, who has a much more controlled style. She takes more risks than a lot of the other riders, and she does shave time on many of them. But there are a lot of fast descenders at the top level, and the margins are usually slim compared to less flashy riders.

I think the contrast was really obvious when she was head to head in a bunch of races with Anika Langvad, who at her best is the absolute queen of Watts, but a relatively nervous descender. There were a few races in early 2018 where Anika drops Jolanda on each climb and Jolanda gets the time back on each descents.
  • 6 0
 I had a similar crash on a trail that I had ridden hundreds of times that I had even helped build. Granted it was at night. I came around a fast corner and momentarily thought the drain was the trail. At speed all it took was a moment of hesitation to go off line. I then t-boned a log in the drain and supermanned off my bike and smashed my helmet and light. Watching the video of Jolanda just sent shivers down my spine. Glad she's recovering well.
  • 1 0
 lucky shawWink
  • 9 0
 Ah, the joys of grocery shopping without a mask.
  • 7 0
 She was absolutely flying. I've ridden that trail on a trail bike, that is ludicrous speed.
  • 4 0
 Well, that was certainly a lively, fun moment to my dull "shelter in place" day!! I pray for a speedy, 100% recovery for Jolanda. Hope to see her in person some day when this crap is over. And Luca, you are amazing-nice place ya got there!
  • 4 0
 During World Cup XC love to watch for the panic uphill sprints from the rest of the pack when Jolanda's near the front. They know she will drop them cold on the coming descent. Great series. Jesus waiting for that crash was making me jumpy.
  • 7 0
 that was the most fun ive had all day
  • 5 0
 Glad to see you back on the bike, Jolanda! Also, amazing to see how you rip on your short travel XC bike! No more excuses for me and my mid-travel trail bike Smile
  • 6 1
 She's got a great attitude! Her crash should serve notice to trail builders, cut trees well off the trail and throw those pieces off of the trail as well.
  • 2 0
 One of the things that grinds my gears the most, especially on mixed use trails. The park services always seem to cut a person sized hole through each down tree, making it tight on a bike at speed. Was in the middle of a long half bench descent with a pretty serious dropoff to my left when a branch was cut off just too long for my right arm to clear. Caught me mid forearm and idk how I didn't get thrown off the mountain. Went back to have a look at it again and it was freshly cut, just not enough to have safe space on the trail.
  • 5 0
 Stoked shes recovering well!
  • 5 0
 Looking forward to the next episode already!
  • 4 2
 Jolanda - Keep your head up, we are all rooting for you. We know you are going to come back stronger than ever. Luca - Take good care of her, women like her only come around once in a lifetime.
  • 3 0
 Given the title of the post, I didn’t expect this video to be as awesome as it was. Ready for May 5th!

Also, there are few places I miss as much as Brevard right now....
  • 3 1
 What a great video, WC DH stud out motor pacing his WC XC studette girl friend. How cool is that? Such great attitudes and clearly about to tested even more. I am a fan of both.
  • 2 1
 They are a cute couple living a fun life. That was cool to see. Would recommend a helmet however to ride a dirt bike, even for driveway riding. Sorry to see Jolanda get hurt, she was flying. Her technical skills have always been stupendous imo.
  • 4 0
 This series looks really promising ! First episode was great
  • 3 0
 I loved seeing Jolanda at full strength on the XCO courses. I hope she can get back to her top level.
  • 3 0
 Yolanda always seems to have such great spirit and energy. Really enjoying the content (minus the crash/injury of course).
  • 3 0
 there are no below threshold comments on this thread cause we all equally like neff
  • 3 1
 An elite athlete, just survived a life threatening accident, her next step, by a MX Bike and fool around, which is great, just wear a helmet !!!!
  • 4 1
 I can't stress this eneff, always pre-ride!
  • 4 0
 Pre-ride, re-ride, freeride!
  • 4 0
 So you can be careful where youlanda.
  • 4 1
 i would watch jolanda paint a fence...
  • 2 0
 Get well soon Jolanda. Best personality and attitude. Boyfriend wears a VR46 helmet, bonus point!
  • 2 0
 Cool series, and MR Motorcycle! Used to take my KLR in there.
  • 4 1
 Wegetables, lurvly.
  • 1 0
 ???? That's a bad splenic rupture on CT. Lucky she didn't need splenectomy.
  • 2 0
 Nice view into how she really is as a person, liked it!
  • 2 0
 Love this, thanks so much for sharing
  • 1 0
 Yolanda smahsing the Ingles Advantage card at check out... Get them gas points!
  • 2 0
 Amazing!
  • 1 0
 So... when are we gonna get a long-term SuperCaliber review???
  • 4 3
 That inside dip on Sycamore is a local secret. Pre jump or get bent.
  • 1 0
 Factual
  • 2 0
 cheers from Peru!
  • 1 0
 Anyone know what trail this was on?
  • 1 0
 Looks like Sycamore Cove to me.
  • 3 3
 Luca, you better marry that girl, but quick!
  • 1 0
 Damn, she was shredding!
  • 1 1
 Lucky Shaw
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