'I crashed headfirst into a car at 60-70 km/h and my brain hit my skull': How near-disaster united the Eguibar brothers 

In 2013, Nico Eguibar, the older brother of 2021 snowboard cross world champion Luis Eguibar, was involved in a serious motorbike crash that left him with brain damage. The brothers have now formed a team so strong that they live to the fullest - knowing that in life there's no extra time. 

By Marta Martín
Picture by Federación Española de Deportes de Invierno

"He changed how I see life."

That’s how Lucas Eguibar, one of the favourites for a snowboard cross medal at Beijing 2022 described his older brother after the younger sibling was named world champion in 2021. In 2013, when Lucas was 19 years old, the brothers’ lives changed in an instant. Nico was involved in a serious motorbike accident that left him in a coma, suffering brain damage that affected his ability to speak or move. However, alongside their sister Sara and mother Graciela, the pair decided that they were never going to utter the words ‘I can’t’ again.

"I crashed headfirst into a car at about 60-70 km/h. I have these problems because my brain hit my skull and my speech and ability to move were damaged. After the accident, I hadn’t recovered as much mentally as I have now and I was not as clear-headed. But when I began to recover and to think about what everyone calls 'bad luck' - which for me is actually good luck because I have a second chance at life - I began to think more and to develop a new mentality,” Nico explained.

This new mentality is based on the idea that you can’t take life for granted. After the accident, the older of the Eguibar brothers has proven his mental fortitude. He has paraglided, travels alone, is learning to scuba diva, and loves to paint. He lives, in his own words, “a full life.”

“The accident has removed the fear I had but also left me with a mental strength, a new perspective that enables me to say, ‘Hey, you only have one life, live for the here and now. The things you don’t do now won’t be available to you later. Whatever you want to do, do it now because there is no extra time in life,” explained Nico.

Lucas Eguibar celebrates with his family his medal in the team event in 2017 World Championship.
Picture by Federación Española de Deportes de Invierno

Walking the path of life together

At the same time that Nico began rehab, his brother Lucas started to question himself about his own way of life.

“I was 19 when it happened and it was shocking because back then I was so focused on sport, I didn’t care about anything else,” explained Lucas. “But the accident was an eye-opener, and I realised life wasn’t a game. At the end of the day, these things can happen to you, so I thought that if something like that happened to me tomorrow I’d like to look back and say, ‘OK, I tried to do everything and, whether or not I succeeded, at least I tried.”

What Lucas put all of his efforts into was the sport of snowboard.

“It was like we were feeding off one another, we cheered each other up. I was doing well with my snowboarding while he was recovering from the accident.”

As the two brothers began to move forward together, they began to learn from each other.

“He helped me more [than I did him], he changed the way I look at life. I think I taught him how to fight for what you want, because that’s what sport is: fighting for what you want. But he taught me more.

“Snowboarding means everything to me, but it’s a game. The life we live at home with our family is what’s real - and that’s what he taught me,” Lucas reflected.

“That’s something I don’t understand,” said Nico, impressed by the words his younger brother used to describe him. “I am the older brother and when things were going badly for me in hospital, I watched him come home after competing and winning in China, Austria and Switzerland, and I said: ‘If this kid is making all this effort and is also winning, I have to work hard as well.’ And that’s when I began to get motivated. It was like a psychological battle, as if to say ‘if you have achieved this, I need to also achieve something.’"

"I pushed myself to smile again"

Together - as a team - the brothers have learned to be happy every day.

“When I was a child I smiled all the time but when my brother had his accident I became really serious. I pushed myself to smile again.

“If you want something, you have to try to get it, and that’s why I’m taking every opportunity to smile,” said Lucas.

Nico is equally determined when reflecting on his own post-crash experiences. “Fortunately, nothing has stopped me. The motorbike crash is the only thing that slowed me down, but from another point of view it has pushed me to do new things. I’m trying to do everything I want to do because I only have one life and one body, so when death does come I’d like to say, ‘OK, now I can rest because I’ve done everything I wanted,’” he said.

Two world champions

One of Nico’s standout memories is hugging his mum after a competition.

“My best memories are celebrating in the snow at his races. I don’t remember when and where [the memory is from] but I clearly remember a big smile and a hug. I remember telling him, ‘this is so great, you’ve done it!’ The hug is priceless and we also hug each other when things don’t go well,” Nico, who now commentates on his brother’s races on social media, remarked.

Perhaps his most emotional commentary was when Lucas won the title at the 2021 World Championship. Nico captured the overwhelming happiness shown by his family at home, who seemed like they were on the podium with Lucas.

Both of the brothers hope they can repeat these celebrations in Beijing if Lucas wins a medal. “I am happy about whatever makes him happy or feel fulfilled. If coming first makes him happy, I’m happy too,” said Nico.

But no matter whether or not he comes first, there will be a hug waiting for Lucas at home in Spain, because this team take happiness from every situation, knowing that they are living their lives without waiting for extra time.

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