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Monday, November 5, 2012
Charles Pagès returns to ramp jumping


Charles Pagès
Step by step, Charles Pagès calmly makes his way back in freestyle motocross.

Charles Pagès jumped from a ramp Oct. 28 in Hossegor, France, for the first time since Nov. 20, 2010, when he suffered traumatic brain injuries in a crash while attempting a front flip at the Bercy Supercross in Paris.

Since the French FMX rider over-rotated the flip, slammed head-first into the dirt on the landing and was placed in a medically induced coma for a week, Pagès has spent nearly two years on a long and determined journey back to a normal life that includes riding his bike.

Photographer Ricky Monti was with Pagès and his brother Thomas Pagès last month to chronicle the momentous day in Charles' comeback and he had a chance to speak with him about it.

ESPN.com: Hi Charles, let's start with your crash. Can you describe what happened and how your life has changed?
Pagès:
So for Bercy 2010 I went to the show, I wanted to do front flip in front to the crowd. It was the first time of this trick [in Paris], I worked a lot on this trick, I made it on dirt maybe 10 times, I was confident … and nothing couldn't happen, but unfortunately in this sport sometimes you can have a crash, so it was the worst crash I had in my life, it was very big trauma.

Sure, it was very hard after that to walk, to talk, to have the right balance. I had problems with memory. It was impossible to do moto after that crash, and the doctor told me that walking and speaking properly was already a success. [From] time to time, because I work a lot with doctors, doing physiotherapy, they said the progress was excellent. I told them that I was very unsatisfied because I was not able to run motocross. They made fun of me because they knew that [it was] impossible for me to ride again, according to the [incredible] trauma I had. Today after two years of work, practice, my balance … I jump for the first time today. And now I would say that my adventure in this sport becomes real again.

At that time the front flip was one of the best tricks to land. After that we have seen other new tricks, so what is your opinion about the current level of FMX?
I think now every rider will have best tricks on their list because freestyle motocross is starting to imitate BMX. Now on BMX you can see on their run some double flip, some huge trick like that and they know it perfectly. And now they need these to win contests, so I think FMX should be the same thing like we have seen in this season.

Thomas did a flair, special flip, vault, so I think FMX needs new best tricks and each rider should learn best tricks in the future, you can see Taka Higashino get the rock solid backflip, Jackson Strong the front flip, Cam Sinclair, Josh Sheehan get double backflip. Everybody, I think, has to get one of these tricks. I think this is the future of FMX. Always ride for pleasure, but also for getting and [attempting] these huge tricks. So if I can I'll keep it fun in freestyle doing big tricks.

Can you talk about this day? You are back two years after your crash. Can you describe your feeling since this morning as soon as you open your eyes and say, "Today I'll jump again and I want to come back again."
The last time I rode freestyle I moved the ramp at around 20 meters. But I stopped at 15 meters two months ago, and a little by little I moved the ramp longer, and I knew that at 21 meters the step after was the normal ramp. So the last time I thought a lot about this day, I was waiting for good weather.

And last night I knew this was the day, so I thought a lot before sleeping about how to get in the ramp, how to quit the gas in the arena, how to jump exactly like if it was the day before X Games or the day before X-Fighters, if I had to do a 360 or front flip. I was thinking I had the same feeling if I had to do a real big trick. There was a lot of stress.

This morning the weather was perfect, we went to the course and because I worked so much to get back on my bike I … did a lot of jumps by 15 meters, 16, 17, 18, until I reached 21. I worked a lot, I knew that was easy to do it.

The other thing was to fight with my mind because I knew that I did it perfectly. Today when I landed my first jump, [it] has been a mix of emotions, smiling and crying at the same time. I was thinking about this moment every second, every minute, every hour and every day until today. Now I want to have fun on the bike and nothing else.