“I thought if I pull a little harder and keep my arms a little straighter to slow the rotation, it would be fine. But I got a terrible pop, and I knew it was going wrong.”
Stellenbosch, SA- May 2021.
World Cup racer and Freerider Ike Klaassen was in the second big session of DarkFEST when he under-rotated his backflip on the Rocket Launcher jump at the end of the course. The 17-year-old, who has a blossoming career in the world of Downhill MTB as South African DH champion, was riding the biggest jumps in the world. The under-rotation resulted in a huge impact, leaving Ike with a broken femur, cracked collar bone, and a dislocated shoulder.
The amazing on-course emergency crew was incredibly dedicated. Ike was at the hospital within an hour to begin the long road to recovery with a couple of vital operations. After a successful surgery, we spoke to him from the hospital, and his composure dealing with the situation has been inspiring and mature throughout:
“The jumps are extremely weather dependant, and it was literally perfect on Monday and Tuesday. Everyone was going so crazy. We opened the 90-footer on Monday morning, then the rocket launchers on Tuesday morning. At first, it was too windy to do a top to bottom run, although it was literally perfect in the evening. We were doing huge trains, and it was probably the best moment of my life. Everyone was so hyped.
But then I went up for my last run and wanted to do something cool cuz the session was so gnarly. So I tried to flip the last one. I thought if I pull a little harder and keep my arms a little straighter to slow the rotation, it would be fine. But I got a terrible pop, and I knew it was going wrong. So yeah broke my femur, which was very scary when I landed and popped my shoulder out. I’ll be out for around 3 or 4 months, which means I miss most of the season, so yeah, very sad. But huge shout out to the DarkFEST crew, best crew in the world!”
— Ike Klaassen
With the overall rolling speed over 75km down the track and airing gaps over 90 feet and heights of over 25 feet, the DarkFEST course jumps are some of the biggest dirt jumps ever built. The course is designed to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bike and give the athletes ample opportunity to throw progressive tricks taking the sport in a whole new direction. The literally ground-breaking event has been at the Hellsend Dirt compound in Stellenbosch, South Africa, for 4 years now. It continues to impress millions of fans worldwide.
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