Freak Crash Takes Sabrina Jonnier Out Of First Downhill World Cup

Here’s hoping for a quick recovery. She’s a talented racer, and I’m betting she’ll be back on her bike in no time.

– Brian

A freak crash in practice has taken an on-form Sabrina Jonnier out of the first race of the 2012 UCI Downhill MTB World Cup season held at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa this weekend.

Riding for Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team, Sabrina Jonnier, of Hyéres, France, was looking to capitalise on an off-season of hard work and training at the opening round of the 2012 UCI MTB Downhill World Cup series in South Africa, but collided with a tree in practice and was carried off the course in a stretcher.

The incident happened on Jonnier’s last practice run before the final.

“It rained yesterday so this morning the practice was a bit tough, but we knew it would be dry for the race. I kept missing a jump because I was sliding in the turn before. I decided to push back to do it, but I was coming into it with less speed so I went for a pedal early and I hit a stump with my pedal and I flew into a tree and hit it with the left side of my body,” recalls Jonnier.

“I hit the ground pretty hard and knew straight away that I wasn’t going to race -it was so sore. I couldn’t move my left side because of the pain. It was terrible.”

Credit: Adventure Media Group/Sven Martin


The impact with the tree snapped Jonnier’s pubic samus and a transverse bone in her lower back.

“I did a scan and an X-Ray and my pelvis is okay, just these small, lame bones have broken -I can’t even tell people I have broken my pubic bone,” she laughs from her hospital bed.

“The doctor here said it is not too bad -the breaks themselves are not too bad, but they don’t understand that I am a professional athlete,” a frustrated Jonnier shares.

“I am not allowed to walk right now -I can’t even fly back home tomorrow because they are worried that I may suffer from thrombosis on the plane.”

“They don’t think I speak very good English, so they speak very close to me and then I overhear them saying there is no way she is going home tomorrow. So I am stuck in South Africa in a hospital. It’s a pretty cool hospital that looks like a hotel, but I know for myself it would be better for me to be back at home in France.”

Crashing out of the first round frustrates multi-World Downhill Champion Jonnier who has unfinished business in elite downhill racing.

“I am so pissed off!” she begins.

“I trained so hard for this race and I was riding good and feeling good. I improved my speed every day and my qualifier [fourth] was okay. I tried hard on the pedalling, but I wasn’t tired at the bottom of the hill so I knew I could pedal three times more today. My legs were perfect this morning -my body was good and I was into it -maybe too much, because I tried to pedal somewhere that perhaps I shouldn’t have and that’s why I crashed.”

Jonnier said the track was awesome “a crazy track that is very fast”.

But she said it was also a little dangerous.

“It is so fast and there are lots of tree stumps sticking out and not many trees with mattresses. I got the tree without any mattress,” she laughs.

“All winter I have been waking up at five in the morning to train with my coach three times a week. I did so much work -it took so much of myself to come back and to prove to myself that I could be good again on a bike and I so wanted to do well this weekend. This was the worst outcome today,” she admits.

“I kept crying, because I just wanted to race.”

There is an 11-week gap before the second World Cup race, which will give Jonnier enough time to heal and prepare.

“For now I just have to read and not move too much,” she offers.

“The good part is that a friend and I are doing a book competition and so I am going to win, because I have nothing else to do now. So there is a bright side,” she smiles.

This was Jonnier’s first race with her new Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team and she’d hoped to return a good result straight up.

“I love my new team -it’s so small and it really feels like a family. My teammate Rémi Thirion did great today -he finished 22nd and he’s not such a pedally rider -he loves steep tracks so it was a good result for him.”

Jonnier, who is riding the Labyrinth Minotaur in downhill said the new bike was performing perfectly suspended with the latest technology from Bos.

“The Minotaur is so nice to ride and Bos has this new air shock and fork that I was running and the bike was very light -I have never ridden such a light bike before -it’s so good,” she explains.

“I really want to show Labyrinth that it was a good choice to take me on their team. I feel so sorry for everyone who has been trusting me this winter -I did work very hard and I want to show them soon that they can still trust in me.”

After more than ten years at the very top of her sport Jonnier knows that crashing is part of her career choice.

“I have good people around me to help me get back on track -this is better to have happened now than in the middle of the season.”

Jonnier will next race at the second round of the 2012 UCI World Cup series to be held at Val di Sole, Italy on June 02 and 03, 2012.


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