Unless you’re a hillclimber and/or cave dweller (chances are good that if you’re one, you’re both), you saw one of the worst crashes in FMX history on television this January. It all began when Metal Mulisha front man Brian Deegan decided to recreate his Summer X Games glory by bringing his patented Mulisha Twist to the snowy mountains of Aspen, CO, for a guaranteed gold at the 2004 Winter X Games.
Deegan was more than ready to stomp the trick on the icy double jump in Aspen, and had been practicing his 75-foot, 360-degree spin for several days back home in sunny California prior to the event. If you saw clips of the attempt (many networks picked it up and aired it on the nightly news, and they played it every five minutes for a week on ESPN), you already know that things didn’t go so well for Brian. After hitting the 90-foot ice gap third gear pinned, his rotation stopped halfway through and Deegan was forced to hit the eject button from nearly 45 feet above the concrete-hard ice. Upon impact, Brian suffered a broken left femur and two broken arms in the terrible calamity.
Being laid up like he is, Deegan is obviously bored off his ass, so he filed this report with his pals at TWMX…
I went to Winter X planning on spinning the 45-footer in the preliminary round, and then I was going to top it off by doing the same on the 75-footer in the finals. I felt pretty confident that that would be all I needed for the win. I realized when I got there that, in my opinion, the jump was catered to the 90-foot backflip.
I went to hit the 45-footer first and could hardly even clear the thing in first gear, which is what you normally jump that style of kicker in. I cased it pretty hard in first and decided that I would need to pull second gear off of it to fully clear it, which no one, including myself, was really used to doing. The 75-footer was an even worse option, because the lip was so kicked-up and long that it looked identical to the 45-footer, only much farther. In fact, the 75 was so jacked-up that not a single person even hit that jump the entire weekend, so obviously that hit was ruled out, too.
Basically the 90-footer was the only decent option, and since I had done several 75-foot spins back home, I made the decision that I would have to spin the 90 if I wanted a shot at the win. Because I had to hit the jump so fast to clear it, I had way too much forward momentum off of the lip to spin the bike around correctly. Once I got up in the air, I realized that there was no way I could pull it all the way around, and my rotation basically just stopped a little more than midway through. That’s when I was forced to make the tough decision to throw away the bike, or take the chance of landing on my back. I’ve seen too many back injuries in my time, so I made the judgment call to jump off before I had to take that chance. I spun around, got away from the bike, and got to my side pretty fast (which was lucky), but when I landed that way after being so high up I snapped my femur just below my hip and broke both wrists from the impact.
Of course the pain was excruciating, and it didn’t help being in the cold conditions. I was loaded onto one of those toboggan sleds by the medical personnel, and they took me straight to the hospital. Within a half-hour I was in surgery getting all fixed up by some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world. Everything went really well considering the extent of my injuries, and I’m already hobbling along on my leg. I get the hardware out in a month, which will be a total of six weeks, and I’ve already started my physical therapy. I plan on riding again very soon, maybe in a couple of months.
Since the crash, I’ve replayed the video a million times, in slow motion, paused, etc… I came off of the lip perfectly, spun around just at the right time, and everything looked right for me to pulll it. About three-fourths of the way through you normally just coast the trick down to the ground–the majority of movement is done in the first half. This time, though, when I was coasting it in the bike just wasn’t coming around. My front end was also a little high, and I can remember just stopping, looking down at the ground, and thinking that I had better jump off before the bike just drills me into the concrete-hard ice below. The first reaction was to get away from the bike, and of course at that point I knew I was going to get f$%*ed up regardless, so I ejected.
That particular trick requires a ton of pop off of the lip, and I just didn’t get that pop because the jump was 90 feet long instead of the 45 or even 75-foot gap that I was used to doing it on. There was just way too much forward momentum. Of course the ice conditions didn’t help things either, and I actually hooked up too good and was going way too fast in third. There was no practice or trial run given to the athletes because they don’t really care about us or our safety, just their TV ratings, and it would slow things down too much to give us a pre-run.
The bottom line is that the promoters don’t ride, so they have no clue how dangerous this shit can be. I don’t want to place all the blame on the jump, but it was crap. No one listens to the riders who have to hit the jumps, they just build it how they want to for television, and then you’re forced to either jump an unsafe jump or go out like a whiny bitch and finish last. I personally told them how the jumps needed to be built; because we’re going uphill in the snow, everything needed to be about five feet shorter to account for the conditions. There’s no reason riders should have to hit a 45-footer in second rather than first, but we were forced to because shrinking the jumps slightly wouldn’t be as good for TV. Well, I say screw TV; it’s our safety that should be their number one priority. Without us, there’s no show in the first place. The bottom line is that from now on, if the jumps aren’t built right, I ain’t riding. It’s just not worth it. I’m not sitting in the hospital again with three broken bones just for their ratings.
– Brian Deegan