We’re so used to watching slams in action sports – and people getting up and walking away from them – that it sometimes seems easy to forget just how dangerous these activities can be.
The world of mountain biking was served with a tragic reminder this weekend when a competitor was killed in the Crested Butte leg of the Enduro World Series in Colorado.
Will Olson, a Colorado native, apparently crashed near the bottom of the course of the third timed leg of the race. While the coroner’s report has yet to be released, race organisers said the early signs were that he’d been killed by “blunt force trauma to the chest.”
“There was no indication of head injury, and no real damage to his bike. It appears to have been blunt force trauma to the chest.”
According to cyling website Velonews, race organiser Brandon Ontiveros said during a press conference: “We’re presuming that maybe he clipped a pedal…. He was probably going about 20 to 25 mph.
“The section where he crashed had a chicane, around some trees. A rider came upon him laying face down. There was no indication of head injury, and no real damage to his bike.”
Despite medics arriving on the scene almost immediately and performing CPR, Olson’s injuries “were such that he could not be saved”.
Like many of the competitors on the Enduro World Series, Olson wasn’t pro but at 40 years old he was a very experienced and apparently talented amateur, who was expected to do very well in the over-30’s ‘Vet Expert’ category he was competing in.
“He had raced our events before, he had ridden in Crested Butte, and he was one of the riders expected to win that category,” Ontiveros said. “He was very skilled… I think this was just a freak accident.”
“He was very skilled… I think this was just a freak accident.”
While there have been deaths in mountain bike competitions before, notably the tragic death of Dutch rider Annefleur Kalvenhaar in Meribel last year, this is the first time anyone has been killed racing Enduro competitively. The relatively new format has only had a World Series since 2013.
Out of respect for the rider, the event was cancelled. The organisers staged a memorial ride on the Sunday and offered counselling to riders and race staff in Crested Butte and on the next stop of the Enduro World Series in Whistler, Canada.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Will Olson.