Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
ONTARIO, California: They may fly high to often delay the effect of gravity, but in the end, we are all bound by the same basic rule, whatever goes up must come down. In the case of the risk-taking Red Bull X-Fighter, they can come down pretty hard.
Injuries are part and parcel of any sport and, as athletes constantly push their bodies to the limit in the pursuit of perfection, things often go wrong, but adding 250 lb of purring steel and nimble acrobatics to the mix can be a different mix entirely, a recipe for disaster.
Broken collar bones, wrists, ankles, joints and ACL ruptures, some of the more common injuries in motorcross competitions, can occur in any type of contact sport, but partially collapsed lungs, fractured pelvis and double wrist breaks and how often they can occur, put the sport in a different risk bracket.
Few can deny the fact that everytime a motorcross freestyle rider heads up the ramp for a routine, he risks serious injury or even death. But from the point of view of the brave athletes, injuries can happen anywhere and the greater the risk - the sweeter the reward.
"We are not different than anyone else, all our skills come from practice and that's it," French rider Thomas Pages, who returned to the tour this year, said.
"We know it is dangerous, and you can crash, but you concentrate on the bike and nothing else. You don't think about it."
Pages was in fine form in yesterday's qualifying round as he landed a series of impressive tricks to finish as top qualifier.
veteran has several accidents
Japan's Eigo Sato, a seven-season veteran of the sport, and one of the Red Bull World Tour's most revered riders, has been involved in several accidents and spent a good part of 2010 season on the sideline after a bad crash in Madrid. By his own admission, however, there is no place else that he would rather be, and a love for the sport is what keeps him going.
"It's tough even right now. I have leg pain, back pain, but once you get out there, there are no excuses, you just ride. I love being out there and that is what keeps me going."
Sato was also outstanding in Friday's qualifying round, securing second spot with his characteristic smooth style and clean jumps.
The tour's youngest rider and winner of the first tour in Dubai, 21-year-old Levi Sherwood, has also spent his fair share of time on the sidelines. In 2010, things were going well for the young rider and he was in with a chance of claiming the Red Bull World Tour title, however, after a bad crash at the ASA World Championships of FMX in California, he was forced to watch the Rome final on television.
But now fully recovered and back on his bike, Sherwood forgets that once he rides into the arena.
"You worry about it a lot when you are off the bike, but when you are on it, you worry about what it is that you are going to do and how you are going to do it," he said.