Two broken collarbones, one snapped wrist, a couple cracked ribs, bruised organs and one major concussion later, Carson Storch considers himself “lucky.” The professional freeride mountain biker has been going big, crashing hard and doing it all over again for nearly half his life.
“Freeriding is pretty similar to any other high-impact sport, like football for instance, but the difference with us is we’re going fast and we’re hitting dirt,” Storch said. Freeriding by nature is unpredictable. Riders choose a route or a “line” down a steep mountain and hope to make it to the bottom unscathed. At 25, Storch is still in his prime, but he’s taking preventive measures to stay at his best both physically and mentally.
“I think brain health is kind of a focus of our sport now—it’s pretty serious at competitions nowadays,” he said. “If you hit your head and the medic doesn’t clear you, you’re done.” Storch remembers a time not that long ago when competitions weren’t as safety-conscious. He said even five years ago, riders had the final say whether they could take another run after a fall. “As long as I could tell doctors I was ‘all good’, they’d let me ride,” Storch said.
“Freeriding is pretty similar to any other high-impact sport,
like football for instance, but the difference with us is we’re going fast and we’re hitting dirt.”
Between 16 and 23 years old, Storch traveled the world competing in slopestyle. Now he focuses on filming and other sponsorship opportunities. One competition he looks forward to each year is Red Bull Rampage—an invite-only freeride competition in Utah where riders design and carve out their own lines on a mountain. “You can pretty much build anything you want out there. It’s a super creative event,” Storch said. “It lets you show how you view mountain biking. … Every single rider uses the terrain completely different.”
In 2018, Storch crashed on both of his runs at the competition. “To do well at that contest, you’ve got to risk it, that just comes with the territory. … It was pretty ambitious, I guess we just kind of went for it,” he said.
The pros make carving down near-vertical freeride lines in the mountains look easy. That’s why Storch and other freeriders use their platforms to talk about brain health—highlighting it in movies like Red Bull Media House’s North of Nightfall, which Storch was in last year. “It turned into a good pitch for the movie. … We all kind of talked about it and tried to push it out there because there’s a lot of kids watching these movies in our sport,” he said.
Now that he’s built up his reputation, Storch has the luxury of choosing how he spends his time on the bike. His cameo in North of Nightfall led to him being the focus of a new movie coming out in 2019. “The whole concept of the movie is basically everything is going to be filmed in Oregon, and we’ll be filming lots of different landscapes because this state is so diverse,” Storch said. In an industry where filming often takes place in spots as diverse as New Zealand, Spain or the North Pole, Storch says it’s surreal to be on location in his home state.
“Metis Creative, a full-scale film crew, relocated to Bend to shoot,” Storch said. “It’s opened up some pretty crazy opportunities for me locally, and makes me even more grateful to have grown up and still live in Bend. It has become quite the hub for mountain biking.”
“Yoga, daily stretching, training at Boss Sports Performance and Rebound Physical Therapy, and riding bikes every day if I can.”
“I drink smoothies in the morning and usually put CBD in them to help with managing injuries and inflammation. I take brain health supplements. Other than that I try to eat well on the road, which is hard to do.”
“I’m inspired by many different people, mainly my friends. I try to surround myself with people who inspire me, whether that’s Travis Pastrana (professional motorsports athlete) or my good buddy Ben Ferguson (Olympic snowboarder). I love seeing people achieve goals and it inspires me to do the same.”