Saturday, September 21, 2013

Trey Canard remembers the moments just before the crash.

He didn't have enough speed to the third hill, so he backed off the throttle and cleared the second one, thinking he'd just ride over the third.

After that, the memories were splotches on his consciousness: The intense pain as he woke up in a medical helicopter, bits and pieces of hazy, drug-induced conversations, wires and tubes hooked to beeping machines, worried family members looking on.

Once he was able to grasp what had happened, Canard's first thought was about how lucky he was.

A 300-pound motorcycle landed on his back and he not only survived, he was expected to make a full recovery. Once Canard pushed past the initial stages of his recovery, he set a goal.

He was going to race again.

"It's all I've ever known," Canard said.

Canard did make his way back to racing this year. Not just turning laps, either. Racing his way to top-10 finishes during the Supercross and outdoor seasons.

For those who know him, it was no surprise.

Misfortune - whether the death of his father at a young age or a series of severe injuries - has seemed to follow the rider from Elk City, Okla., throughout his life.

Canard never let allowed any of it to make him back off the throttle, beating back adversity with a combination of determination and faith.

"He's kind of stubborn," Canard's mother, Kari, said. "So I knew he'd be able to come back."

Canard's biggest setback came when he was 12.

His father, Roy, had been a huge supporter of his motocross racing and built a small track on the family's property.

One day while working on the track, Roy Canard was clearing some rocks with a tractor. When he climbed off the tractor, it somehow flipped over and the family found him pinned underneath it.

"We knew it didn't look good when we saw him," Trey said.

Canard could have abandoned racing after such a traumatic event. He had grown up riding dirt bikes with his dad and no one would have blamed him for losing his passion for the sport.

Instead, the accident pushed Canard toward motocross even more, driving him to work harder in his father's honor.

"It certainly was something that was very difficult to go through," said Canard, who turned 23 last Tuesday. "But you find a way to get through it and continue with your life. Racing was something that we did together and it just made me want to work hard and be the best I could be."

After a decorated amateur career, Canard was one of motocross' rising stars and proved it by winning the 250cc AMA Motocross title in 2010. That landed him a 450 ride, but it also started his run of injuries, including two broken femurs and a broken collarbone.

The worst of it came on Jan. 21, 2012 during a Supercross race at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

After getting a piece of sign stuck in his wheel, Canard didn't have the speed to complete a triple jump, so went for the double. Just as he started over the third hill on the ground, fellow Ryan Morais came sailing in from above. Already committed to the jump and with nowhere else to go, Morais came down on Canard, landing his back wheel on his back.

Both riders went sprawling as the crowd let out a gasp.

Morais suffered numerous injuries, including a broken back, jaw and ribs.

Canard broke three vertebrae and had to be airlifted to a local hospital.

Confusion followed; Canard because he was in shock and sedated, his family because they couldn't get any answers and were concerned about the care he was receiving.

"It was frustrating because there wasn't a lot of information being shared and we weren't sure how bad it was," Kari Canard said.

The family had Canard moved to another hospital, where he underwent surgery to take the pressure off his spinal cord and stabilize the broken vertebrae with two rods along his spine.

Then started the long rehabilitation process, from the first few days of working on range of motion to swimming and strengthening exercises. He took small steps - like being able to take out the garbage by himself or riding his bicycle - and was back on his dirt bike seven months after the accident.

Canard returned to competitive racing for the 2013 Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 5. Despite all the attention his return generated, it was like Canard had never been gone; he finished second in the main event to David Millsaps.

"I was pretty nervous, but it felt good to get back out there," Canard said. "The support I got from the other riders was pretty incredible, something I'll never forget."

Canard made it through the next race with no problem and fought off the jitters on the third race of the schedule, finishing second a year after suffering a life-threatening injury.

What surprised Canard was what happened next: The mental hurdle was still there.

Instead of just going out and racing, Canard found himself thinking about injuries, wondering if he was going to have another motorcycle land on his back. He went into a funk for the next few races, battling himself as much as the bike or the track.

"I think it really played on him - I don't know if it was the fear or the memory or what," Kari Canard said. "It really weighed on him for the next few races."

But, as he has for most of his life, Canard fought his way through the adversity.

He closed out the Supercross season by winning at Las Vegas and finished sixth in the overall standings.

Canard opened the outdoor season by finishing fourth at the Hangtown Classic in Northern California and was steady most of the way through, finishing fourth overall with a high of second at Spring Creek in Minnesota.

"Trey has a tremendous amount of persistence," said Davey Coombs, vice president of the Lucas Oil Motocross Championships. "For him to have all the injuries and setbacks he's had and keep fighting is pretty incredible."

Not to Canard.

Adversity is a challenge to him, one he's not about to back down from.

Source: Gosanangelo

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