Orthopaedic Surgeon and pro rider Dr Euan Speirits joins Crankworx as “by riders, for riders” medical consultant, supported by Leatt
Since 2019, Crankworx has been working with Dr. Euan Speirits (@actionsportsmedical) to develop new medical initiatives to support riders.
Starting in 2021, we welcome Leatt on board as the Official Protection Partner of the Crankworx World Tour. With their support, we’re excited to further champion the work Euan’s been doing at Crankworx festivals.
Tomas Lemoine (@tomaslemoine) is one athlete who’s been working with Euan consistently at Crankworx events the past two years.
“He’s been doing exercises with us to see the evolution each year. It helps to know where we’re at every year. This sport is a lot focused on mental, so it’s always good to feel supported with health in case of a big crash and not feeling like you should not send it. He’s also good to prepare athletes before events if needed and work on the stress the contest can put on you. If you are sure safety is on point on the event, it’s easier to put your mind on beast mode and do what you came for!”
We think this guy is going to change the game and we are beyond stoked to partner with Leatt to keep the momentum going. We chatted with Euan to get the low down on where he’s come from and the path ahead with Leatt and Crankworx.
Crankworx: First of all, an official welcome to the team. You’ve been working with Crankworx for a couple years, but in 2021 and beyond it’s going to go to the next level. Tell us first – what has your involvement been with Crankworx in the past?
Dr. Euan Speirits: I actually started off with Crankworx as an athlete believe it or not! I was racing 4X Protour and the festival vibe draws lots of disciplines of racers to come and test their skills against the best multi-discipline riders in the world. After one shot at Dual Slalom and Air DH I was hooked.
Whilst competing and talking with riders, it became clear that everyone is taking their professional health and wellbeing far more seriously these days which is a fantastic advancement for the sport. Your average rider is more clued up on the risks of concussion and repeated injuries now. After a lot of time asking riders exactly what they would want, the lovely folks at Crankworx took a leap and helped me set up a role as the gravity industry’s first dedicated athlete physician at Crankworx Whistler in 2019.
CWX: What was that experience like?
ES: It was a bit of a whirlwind if I’m honest! I’m a huge fan of the sport I work in and have been staying up late since I was a teenager to watch Crankworx live feeds. Crankworx Whistler is such an otherworldly experience and, even though I’d spent a lot of time around professional riders already, I was astounded at the level elite slopestyle riders and multi-event athletes operate at. The demands, considerations and consequences are huge. Throw that into my first time in Whistler and I had one fairly exhausting week. Every second was worth it though and it was a privilege to start working with the riders and the team.
CWX: What did you learn through this experience, specifically about some of the challenges that pro mountain bikers face?
ES: It was a hugely successful pilot project that focused around baseline concussion testing, ensuring we knew riders’ medical/surgical histories ahead of competition and opening up conversations about mental health in the sport. Performing at top level, juggling risks, keeping an income… these are major considerations and it can take its toll on a rider’s mental wellbeing. My mental health drop-in clinic was instantly oversubscribed and it’s refreshing to see the subject approached so candidly by a professional group of riders. What we really learned though is that riders truly want to engage in processes that help them perform at their best whilst keep them happy and healthy right through to the other side of their pro riding career. There’s so much we can be doing as a medical profession to help bring gravity riding to the forefront and it’s so cool to be kicking that process into gear.
CWX: Before Crankworx – give us a little taste of your background. Wearing both hats: bikes and…scalpels?
ES: I’m from Glasgow, Scotland and actually grew up playing international tennis! Sport’s been a part of my life from about age three and through medical school I was playing UK Premier Basketball before moving into riding my bike more. I started racing Scottish Downhill races and then things really kicked off when I got into racing 4X Protour and Crankworx events. Throughout all of this I went to medical school at age 17 in Glasgow, started training as a surgeon after finishing my five year degree and have been doing a Phd in Orthopaedics (bone and joint surgery) for the past five years. I’m now living and working as a surgeon in Rotorua (thanks to coming here racing Crankworx) and I’m excited about being in the sports medical field more!
CWX: You’re now a Leatt ambassador – how did that come about?
ES: I’m still racing any chance I get (World Champs 2023 is still the goal!) as well as riding in one of the best destinations in the world. When you’re working in surgery you unfortunately see what happens when things go wrong on bikes, and naturally I’m very selective about what protective wear I use. Leatt first crossed my radar when I was researching neck braces in the Glasgow spinal injuries unit way back in 2010. I produced my first ever piece of medical literature analysing the brace and the data supporting its use. From then I’ve always used one and it seems strange to ride without it.
I started speaking to the team more as a rider and medical professional in the industry, and the relationship has grown from there. Leatt was established by Dr. Chris Leatt, a neurosurgeon in South Africa, and the way they operate as well as their mission statement really resonate with me. They don’t compromise when it comes to rider safety, and I’m always happy to convey that message when I put on a Leatt helmet. I’ve always seen riders as my family which is why I’ve pushed so hard for their wellbeing and I’m stoked Leatt feel that way about it too.
CWX: We’re stoked this has all come together now: your work with Crankworx and Leatt, and now with Leatt on board as the Official Protection Partner of the Crankworx World Tour. What does this mean for your involvement with Crankworx, going forward?
ES: I’ll be looking to solidify the work I started with the Crankworx World Tour I started before the unfortunate break in world events, giving riders true continuity of care at all events throughout the year. This allows us to really make significant inroads and learn from more than just a snapshot of one or two events. We’ll be looking at everything about rider’s wellbeing so they can compete safely and truly push the limits of the sport. The best part is I’ll be backed by a brand who is fluent in that language and synonymous with safety in competition.
CWX: What’s your hope for the future of mountain biking, in terms of riders’ health and safety?
ES: I’m hoping this trajectory continues and we see gravity riders getting the care levels found elsewhere in the cycling industry. It’s a natural progression and I believe we’ll get there eventually.
Stay tuned for some exciting content from Leatt and Dr. Euan Speirits across the Crankworx World Tour in 2021 and beyond.