Whistler's Jesse Melamed couldn't bear the thought of missing another edition of the Enduro World Series in his own backyard.
After being sidelined because of injury in 2018, it looked as though Melamed was set to face a similar fate here in 2019 after breaking his ankle and injuring his finger in late June in Val di Fassa.
Instead, the 2017 Canadian Open Enduro champion lined up and, considering his still wasn't 100 per cent, finished a respectable 29th in this year's race on Aug. 11.
"It was really hard. I was in a boot and a splint last week. I saw the doctor and he's not conservative-which maybe isn't a good mix for me-but he was like, 'You can't make it worse, give it a shot,' so we went through a lot of iterations to get my bike and my grips up," he said. "I thought my ankle was going to be my biggest problem, but my hand ended up being super painful. I couldn't hold on, which is not ideal for Whistler."
Given his condition, Melamed acknowledged his expectations were low, but all in all, the race worked out better than expected. Melamed rebounded from a 78th-place finish in the first stage from Top of the World, placing third in Stage 3 and sixth in Stage 6.
"I was trying to be smart about my dumb decision to do it," he said. "I'm really happy that I made it through. The people cheering, that's why I did it.
"I didn't do it for the points or the overall. I couldn't stand to watch another race."
Melamed, who has missed three Whistler races in total in his career, has experience coming back from injury and has learned to gauge when it may or may not be safe to return in season.
Melamed took his return day-by-day, knowing he would at least line up for Stage 1 and see where it went. Unfortunately for him, it was the most challenging run of all right off the top.
"As soon as the doctor said yes, I was like, 'I'm gonna start,'" he said. "Top of the World was not ideal. It was really difficult. I didn't practice it because I knew I wouldn't be able to hold on in practice. I know it well enough."