Near tragedy to 'great opportunity'
When Trey Canard fractured his T-10, T-11, and T-12 vertebrae and tore up the tendons and ligaments around his spine in a January 2012 Los Angeles Supercross crash, motocross fans wondered if he'd ever walk again, much less ride. So it was something of a miracle when he was walking around just 10 days later, and even more surprising that he now says he's planning to race at the 2013 AMA Pro Supercross season opener Saturday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., less than a year after his brutal crash.
With the 2013 SX season firing up and filmmaker Jason Bergh's "REvival 41" documentary about Canard's recovery premiering Thursday at the UltraLuxe Anaheim Cinemas at GardenWalk, we checked with Canard last week to find out just how far he has come.
ESPN.com: We last caught up with you in February 2012, shortly after the crash, and can hardly believe you're ready to race already. Can you fill us in on what you've been through in the past 10 months?
Canard: I know this will sound unbelievable, but it's really been an awesome experience and a great opportunity for me. It's certainly not how I hoped or planned to spend my year, but racing is so busy sometimes that you don't really get a chance to slow down. That was one of the things that really jumped out at me this year, the chance to look at life and get some different perspective.
Healing has been one thing, and trying to get some perspective and do some things outside of racing has been another. I got to go on a mission trip to Africa and got to do a lot of things with my church, spend a lot of really good time with my family, and do a lot of awesome things I don't always get to do. I think the time off has helped me better appreciate riding and everything I get to do in this life I'm blessed to be living.
Again, this may sound strange, but my injury has been a huge blessing. This year has been one of the best years of my life.
How is it possible that you're back at full strength and ready to compete?
The doctors had to go in and straighten my spine out and do a fusion with rods and screws and bone grafts. It was a severe injury, but I was very fortunate to not lose any feeling or movement, so after the surgery it was really just a matter of giving everything a rest and letting it heal, waiting for the graft to take, and then getting everything fired back up again.
It's been a long process, from walking the first time to training and getting back to everyday life and, eventually, getting back to riding and now racing. For me, being a man of faith, I feel that God is behind it all. For me and Ryan Morais to both still be here alive and walking and moving after that crash, that speaks volumes to me. I feel blessed, plain and simple.
When you say "it's been a long process," I almost have to laugh. This was all less than one year ago that we're talking about.
The injury took about eight months to heal, and that's an eternity in an athlete's eyes. I had really good doctors and really good people around me, giving me encouragement and leading me in the right direction. There were definitely times when I didn't know if I should give up the dream of racing again, and it's been a real baby step process. I don't feel like I'm rushing anything: I've just been taking an awful lot of baby steps to get back to who I am and where I am now.
I feel better than ever before and I'm just very thankful and ready to get going.
Do you have any specific goals coming back to racing, or is it enough just to be back?
The first goal for me always was Anaheim 1 [first of three Supercross events in Anaheim]. My doctor said to give it about a year, and that's about where we're at. Riding, and racing again, was always the goal. As far as other goals or expectations go, I'm going to go out there and put my best foot forward and compete and try to win, same as always.
All I can really ask for is my best effort, so that's what I'm going to go out there and give.
Now that the trailer for "REvival 41," is out there and has been getting a good response, what are you looking forward to about seeing the finished film and getting your story out in front of an audience?
This whole year has been a life-changing experience on so many levels that it's going to be pretty emotional to relive it, but hopefully people can see me in a different light and come out of it having gained some perspective or some inspiration, or at least had a good time watching it. It's all been pretty amazing.
What's on your mind heading into Anaheim 1?
Remembering that this is what I do, and that I really enjoy it. I'll be back with all the same sponsors I've been with for the last two years, which is really cool because they all stuck with me and renewed my contracts even with an unknown future: I'll be back with the Muscle Milk Honda team, Fly Racing, DC Shoes, Scott Goggles, Alpinestars, everybody. A lot of people have been really good to me this year.
More than anything I'm looking forward to getting out there on the new CRF-450, and can't wait to push it to its limits.