Nick Bruce: The Crash and The Comeback

Nick Bruce showed up in Minneapolis with hopes of taking home an X Games Gold, but had to settle for a serious injury. A frontflip-gone-wrong left Nick on the sidelines for the entirety of X Games, Nitro World Games, and X Games: Sydney, but he isn’t let that slow him down or discourage him in any way. We caught up with Nick to see how he’s feeling and when we can expect to see him back at 100%. Here’s what he had to say - 

Video: Colin Mackay

I know you went down during dirt practice at X Games. What trick was it?

A frontflip to seat ejection frontflip to flat on the last jump.

What happened exactly?

Well, I wanted to do a push-through frontflip to get over the jump. The last jump had been difficult to clear during most of the week because of speed. I was playing it safe, thinking a frontflip would carry me over. But, with a slight miscalculation, I cased my back wheel and got launched to the complete flat bottom - directly to my hands and shoulder.


Did you immediately know something was wrong?

Yes - I actually remember it quite vividly. As I popped off the launch, I remember staring at the logo on the backside of the landing and feeling myself going up instead of moving forward towards it. At that point I knew I was going to hang up back wheel, but I had no idea it was going to send me to my head on the flat. When I rolled over on the ground, I knew I broke my collarbone and yelled, “Noooooo!” 

I immediately went on an emotional rollercoaster of laughter, anger, relief, and sadness - back and forth many times in a matter of minutes. 

What was the exact injury?

I shattered my left clavicle - aka the collarbone - into five pieces.


Did they operate immediately?

No. Once the hospital mad sure I was stable and no bones were internally protruding any organs, we discussed that it was best for me to wait around a few days and get operated on somewhere closer to home. My USA Cycling coach and BMX racing legend Jamie Staff orchestrated this decision, as I have health insurance through USA Cycling. They truly went above and beyond helping me with everything!

What role did USA Cycling play in all of this exactly?

I’m honestly amazed by everything USA Cycling has been able to provide for us - not only through my injury experience, but literally everything. The closest hospital to my home that is within their network is in Pittsburgh. They literally booked me flights to Pittsburgh from Minneapolis, put me in a hotel, and scheduled all of my doctor appointments and the actual surgery within a few hours. I just had to show up in Pittsburgh and let them do their thing. I still find it hard to believe. I’m extremely thankful just to be on the USA team, but the fact that I’m leaving this experience with zero hefty medical bills is a serious bonus. 


How did this effect you mentally - having to miss X Games and be off your bike for so long?

Honestly, my mental state has been strong the entire time! Even moments directly after the crash. Obviously, it wasn’t my goal to crash, but it is always my goal to learn from each and every moment in life regardless of the situation. I just always fully trust it is for the better. The lessons that came with this situation would require a whole separate conversation! I’ve been in a really great place and I’m very grateful for this injury. I now have the biggest scar on my body to remind me the beauty of it every day!

What did they do in the surgery?

The surgeon cut my skin open, put two titanium plates in - they are held together by twelve screws - to mold the five pieces of my collarbone back together. 


What else have you been doing to ensure you’re back on your bike ASAP?

I have been meditating a lot! I’ve been eating a lot of greens and veggies to keep my body alkaline. I’ve started seeing an amazing team of physical therapists that are close to then gym I go to. I’ve been going to the gym a lot and slowly building my body’s strength up, along with attending some yoga classes.

How are you feeling today?

It’s crazy, but right now I feel a thousand times better than I did before my crash - mentally physically, emotionally, and spiritually!

I see you backed out of X Games: Sydney. Will you be back at FISE in China?

Deciding not to ride X Games: Sydney was one of the hardest decisions of my career thus far. To say no to an X Games event - I’ve waited my entire life to get the opportunity to ride them, now I’m making the choice to say no to really honor my well-being. It’s such a surreal feeling. But, yes! I will be back for FISE in Chengdu!

Do you think you’ll be 100% in China?

As long as I continue this pace of listening to my body and not overdoing anything, yet still applying the efforts accordingly in the gym, yoga, physical therapy, and riding sessions, I believe I’ll be back at 100% for China.


You’re currently the overall leader in the FISE series. Do you think you’ll be able to hold on to that - even after going through all of this?

I definitely believe I’ll be able to hold on to the title. Everything I went through has really helped me become stronger mentally and physically.

What have you done since getting back on your bike? How soon do you plan on stepping things up?

I’ve only allowed myself to do manuals and pump around. No jumping or tricks until I feel my body has the strength to handle the demands of doing that stuff again. But, honestly - based on how I’ve been feeling - it will be sooner than I expect.


Any trips or training missions planned to make sure you’re riding at your best when you’re back?

My trainer Raymon Terry and my physical therapist Ryan Summers have a solid program for my off-bike training and I think just the home sessions at Chenga World and Ray’s MTB here in Cleveland, along with my resi jump at my parents’ house, will suffice! A trip or two to Woodward could be in the cards, too.

Any big takeaways from this unfortunate situation?

So many, but the main one is that everything seeming unfortunate or not is an opportunity to become stronger within our bodies and minds. This incident gave me a chance to find a deeper appreciate for my career and my health. 

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