Whatever Happened to Brodie Evans?
Live fast, take chances. That seems to be the running motto of the professional sledding scene—which is exactly why longevity is not always associated with these athletes. To that point, we may have witnessed one of the all-time quickest rise-and-fall in the case of the mega-talented Brodie Evans.
Brodie one of my greatest friends and possibly one of the most talented riders I know, yet I am often left wondering what happened to him. I mean, I know what happened to him—but why, and what was it that made him leave it all behind?
Photos by Jeff Harker
Whatever Happened to Brodie Evans?
Brodie is a natural at everything. He is one of those annoying friends who can make you look bad, regardless of what activity you are doing. I have spent countless days with him in the backcountry on sleds, bikes, skis, you name it—if it involves a mountain and high speed, Brodie will conquer.
Brodie was attracted to sledding because it seemed to meld his two favourite passions—mountain biking and skiing—into one, all-inclusive and extremely gratifying pleasure. To him, it was the ultimate freedom: a medication to his wandering mind that was difficult to let rest or keep on task. Anyone who loves sledding can relate. Those moments of riding are a complete release from the everyday traffic in your head. It’s just you and the machine and the mountains (and maybe some good friends and good snacks).
Success Doesn’t Come without Effort
But prodigious sledding ability didn’t just fall into his lap. Brodie was determined to succeed as a professional athlete and that had become his goal. He came up through the ski and bike scene with a sniff of the glory of the elite. But once he started sledding, he knew it was the ticket. Sledding came naturally to Brodie, and the timing for his rise was right. The industry needed a bit of fresh blood at the professional level, and he lived in the right place to make it happen—Revelstoke, BC.
So Brodie worked hard and he succeeded. By the end of the 2016/17 season—only 8 years after buying his first sled—he had made his way to the top of the ranks as one of the most respected and talented backcountry freeriders of the day. Brodie was featured in four full segments with the top brands in the industry like 509 and Slednecks, and was decked out head-to-toe in sponsorships.
When I say that Brodie worked hard, I mean as hard as any human could. He was out riding everyday, and not just for the fun of it. Brodie was on a mission to accomplish the media exposure he needed to succeed by hitting jumps, sending cliffs and bagging his poor body every day. He was lining-up filmers, photographers, other athletes and friends to come help dig jumps and spot landings. He was at the gym getting fit and working part-time to pay for it all. Brodie was in his journal, setting goals and planning the day, the season, the life ahead. He didn’t have a spare minute. It was all going so well and the hard work was paying off. Then he got bit in the ass.
Plagued by Injury
Brodie started struggling with a shoulder irritation. It came on pretty quickly. Instead of stopping, he slowed down just enough to battle through the season. But it continued to get worse, even after the season was over. The injury kept Brodie off his bike all summer and lingered into the next winter.
It was an impingement. For those of you who have never had nerve issues, an impingement is a shooting pain akin to being stabbed over and over with a high-voltage breadknife. You can’t use that limb, you can’t sleep, you can’t think about anything but the shooting pain.
In the end, after over a year of recovery, the injury left Brodie without sponsorship and without a sled. He had pushed so hard for a goal and reached it. But in retrospect, he had realized that maybe it was not all that worth it. Bear in mind that his was a pretty minor injury compared to the potential for injury he had been exposing himself to as an athlete. Everything had to continue to progress to bigger, better, more technical; it became a head game and it was no longer worth the risk; the reward was not grand enough. For Brodie, the ultimate reward was to be in the mountains forever. At this rate, that was not looking like an attainable goal.
Forging New Paths
It seems like a bit of a sad story, but really it isn’t. Brodie is in a good place now. He is healthy and happy and has been pushed in a new direction that he may not necessarily have chosen a few years ago. There is no one to blame. It is a case of a human on a path of personal growth and mental balancing. With no regrets.
Brodie has just finished his 4th year as an apprentice carpenter, and has a rad group of friends around that like to play in the mountains with him. He still does not own a sled but promises that he will be back in the sport very soon—albeit at a recreational level and likely to do a little guiding here and there.
His advice to all the up-and-comers is this: it will come around if you are truly passionate about it. Don’t get caught up in social media, put your time in, assess ALL your landings, check everything out and wear the gear.
From Brodie Evans we can all learn to roll with the punches. I personally can’t wait to see him back up in the mountains. And to be able to shred alongside him in the future. I’m glad he chose the option to stay all in one piece!