Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Snocross Stars React to Blair Morgan's Injury
Action-sports fans were astonished when five-time Winter X Games gold medalist Blair Morgan was paralyzed from the chest down in a Supercross practice accident on September 20, 2008. But they weren't the only onesBlair's snocross brethren were also shocked. We asked several top pros what their reaction was when they learned the tragic news. Levi LaVallee, three-time Winter X Games gold medalist
Levi LaVallee was on his bike when he heard the news.
"Blair is such a legend, and you never think of icons like him getting hurt. I was actually at home riding motocross on my track with [teammate] Chris Kafka when I heard. We were resting between motos when the phone rang inside, but I had all of my gear on and just blew it off. Then it rang again right away and I knew it was important. I ran into the house and it was my girlfriend; she told me Blair was on his bike when he crashed. I was overwhelmed.
"I went back outside totally spooked. Chris and I sat there for a long time without saying anything. I thought, 'How could this happen?' It really made me think, and I wondered if I should even be riding. I decided I had to get back on my bike, but I couldn't focus at all. I just kept thinking about Blair, so I parked the bike for the afternoon.
"I got back out the next day, though. You have to put it out of your head. Everyone who races motocross or snocross or does any of these sports knows that's one of the risks we run, but you don't think about it. You can't. This is my job, my career, and if you're thinking about that you're more likely to get hurt." Steve Taylor, Morgan's teammate from 2002-06
Steve Taylor couldn't believe that such a seemingly minor crash could have such devastating consequences.
"F**k, the news was brutal. Everyone looks up to Blair, and it was such a shock because he's so smooth and cautious; he never took stupid risks. He was so creative on the track that I guarantee you every single one of us has come out of our trailer just to watch him get through a section. It's like he belonged in a video game he was so above it.
"I was star-struck when I first met Blair in 1999. I was in awe, so to hear what happened ... it's weird, because it wasn't even a really bad crash. He and I have both walked away from way worse. For the first couple of weeks after his accident all I thought about was could it happen to me, too? I didn't want to even think about it, but it was there in my head. It's so negative, thinking about it happening to you, but I couldn't help it. But Blair has meant so much to me and has been such an inspiration that now I want to do everything I can to turn it into motivation." T.J. Gulla, three-time Winter X Games medalist, two-time National snocross series champ
TJ Gulla was in utter shock.
"Finding out hit so hard. It's one of those awful things that you can't even believe. I know he had been thinking about retiring from motocross racing, so that brings up so many 'what-ifs.' People always wonder why bad things can happen to good people, and I was definitely thinking about it a lot. When you don't get hurt for a while your confidence gets built up, but when something like this happens you realize there are a lot of things that can go wrong."
Ross Martin, 2006 Winter X SnoCross bronze medalist, two-time National series champ
"I wouldn't even let the news sink in at first. There are always a lot of rumors that fly around, so I hoped it was just one of those. I refused to believe it. Everyone who follows the X Games knows who Blair Morgan is, and this proves that a terrible accident can happen to anyone out there, even the best there is."