Three-time FMB World Tour gold medalist, three-time Red Bull Rampage winner, and five-time Red Bull Joyride winner Brandon Semenuk has announced today that he is joining Team MIPS.
Semenuk is the second athlete to join Team MIPS; the first being accomplished X Games Swedish freeskier Henrik Harlaut, who was announced alongside Team MIPS’ founding in September 2020.
We asked Semenuk a couple of questions about what this partnership means to him, his own history with head injuries, and whether he has any advice for fellow riders.
In recent years, we've learned a lot about head injuries. At Crankworx Rotorua in 2015, you had a hard time seeing out of your left eye but you still dropped in to attempt a second run. What thoughts were going through your mind in the moments leading up to your second run? How did you finally make the decision not to do a full second run?Brandon Semenuk:
Yes, head injuries are not black and white, still so much to learn, but with lots of new information becoming available and more testing happening we can start to approach these injuries better (before or after they happen...). My choice at Rotorua was not easy and highly driven by a fight or flight mindset. After deciding to continue it was obvious when the first tricks didn't go as planned that I should end the run there to minimize risk. I took 5-6 weeks off after that event and got base line tested so I had a reference for the next time I might hit my head
What have you learned since that experience?Brandon Semenuk:
In the last several years I've been fortunate to work with concussion specialists and be involved with the development of new Troy Lee Designs helmets. I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but by seeing test results and talking to professionals it has given me the opportunity to make an informed decision on my injuries and the equipment I use.
Have there been other times throughout your career where you've had to make difficult calls like that?Brandon Semenuk:
Yes, a handful of times. This is a position any action sports athlete trying to compete at the top level will experience in their career. Rotorua was the furthest extreme, where I was only given 15-20 minutes to assess my health and make the call. In hindsight it was a bad idea, but these are the risk vs reward moments we need to make as athletes. I won my first Rampage after getting a concussion in my first run attempt. That win obviously propelled my career forward, so it's hard to know where to draw the line. Better technology in our safety equipment will hopefully reduce the chances of us having to make those difficult decisions.
Do you have any side effects from concussions that you live with daily?Brandon Semenuk:
Luckily, no. I've always done my best to take time after a concussion to heal and feel 100%. I've had short term side effects and it's a scary feeling..
Why did you decide to join Team MIPS and what can we expect from this partnership?Brandon Semenuk:
I've always been an advocate of helmets and I chose MIPS from the early beginnings because rotational impacts are very common in mountain biking, so when they reached out about building this all-star team and wanting to work closer with the athletes, it seemed like a great opportunity to collaborate on some ideas and through that hopefully create more awareness that people have options when choosing a helmet.
What advice do you have for your fellow riders?Brandon Semenuk:
Send it! And keep doing what you love! We are lucky to live in an era with such good equipment and it continues to get better. For people looking to develop their skills it's that added confidence to keep pushing. Whether you're a professional or weekend warrior, risk will always be a factor, so play smart and listen to your body if you want to keep the wheels turning.