Watch the new animated film telling the story of Greg Minnaar's crash at the 2022 Val Di Sole MTB World Cup

Animation of Greg Minnaar's crash at Val di Sole downhill mountain bike world cup
(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

Greg Minnaar the GOAT, four times World downhill mountain bike champion. With 23 career victories has the most world cup wins ever, he currently rides for the Santa Cruz Syndicate team. 

This year's end of season race at the infamous Black Snake in Val di Sole, Italy didn't quite go as planned with Greg having a horrific training run crash that resulted in him fracturing three vertebrae and spending a few months in a neck brace.

Val di Sole animation

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

Incredibly after the crash, he made the dubious choice to get back on his bike and ride the rest of the track to the Syndicate team pit. The reason, his fear of flying and not wanting to risk being airlifted off the mountain.

After he had listened to a podcast where Greg had told the story of his injuries, Taj Mihelich the former World Champion in Freestyle BMX and now cartoonist and animator, could visualize Greg's words as animations and reached out to Greg. 

Greg Minnaar about to crash at Val di Sole downhill mountain bike world cup

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

"I was unsure if Greg would even want to document the story, luckily he was keen and after lots of drawing, it's here Fearless, almost and we are excited to share it.

It was nice to get to know Greg through our video meetings. A couple of times, as we chatted, I found myself nodding in agreement, “Oh yeah, the same thing happens to me on my bike.” But of course, it’s not the same. I was talking about the super smooth flow trail behind my house, he was talking about going full throttle down this year’s extra gnarly Val Di Sole track.

He is so laid back that it was disarming, to think of what could have happened or if he had been wearing a sub-standard helmet, his injuries could have been way worse."

Greg Minnaar's helmet smashed open in crash

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

In the animated short, Greg Minaar, Fearless *Almost, Greg talks in his own words about how after making an error on his secret line on part of the Val do Sole track, he's thrown headfirst and backflips as his helmet is torn open on a rock.

Miraculously Greg was able to sit up and remove his helmet, feeling numb and seeing stars, the realization that if medics tended to him on the mountain his greatest fear would be realized, a helicopter with a basket, airlifting him off the mountain to the hospital.

Greg Minnaar imagines being airlifted of a mountain after crash

(Image credit: Taj)

He decides to get back on his bike, casually throwing his goggles to a lucky fan before bracing himself and riding down the rest of the track. Safely reaching his pit, telling his Syndicate crew to cut off his shirt and call for medics.

Greg Minnaar throws goggles to fan

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

During an almost comedic exchange with non-English speaking medics Greg is wheeled out of the pits and put in an ambulance, where firstly his feet are slammed in the door and then he's almost strangled by a ventilation tube before eventually arriving at the event's onsite doctor. 

Greg Minnaar's feet are slammed in ambulance door

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

After much protest and heated exchanges between doctors and Crank Brothers CEO, Gaspare Licata who eventually and after an injection of 'the good stuff' convinces Greg to take the helicopter ride out to the hospital.

An injection of the good stuff for Greg Minnaar

(Image credit: Taj Mihelich)

After all his fear, he actually enjoyed the flight, even asking one of the medics to record some videos.

He ended up in a neck brace for 7 weeks and a further 4 of rehab but feels he's well on track to make a 100 percent recovery and be back for the 2023 season.

The beautiful animation is available to watch on YouTube or right here by clicking on the box below.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul has been riding bikes for as long as he can remember. From racing mountain bikes in the 1990s to endurance riding on the North Coast 500. He put his knowledge of all things cycling to good use when Paul founded his own adventure and cycling magazines back in 2018, Proper Adventure and Proper Cycling, which has led him on some memorable experiences. 

From riding with and interviewing World Champions to riding bikes all over the world. Based in Edinburgh he has the stunning riding locations that Scotland has to offer on his doorstep and has recently embraced the freedom and adventure of gravel riding.

Rides: Scott Spark RC Team Issue, Bergamont Grandurance Elite, Standert Kreissäge Team Edition

Height: 176cm

Weight: 85kg