The Day that changed it all:
Let’s rewind to January 21, 2017 at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Ca. Just a typical night for these athletes, lining up on the gate for another round of Monster Energy Supercross; the stadium packed with close to 40,000 fans. This was it, the highlight of the night, the 450 Main event. Just 11 minutes in, one single jump changed the career of one rider in an instant.
Coming out of the turn in a solid Third place, Ken Roczen approached a jump he had hit almost 35 times that same day. Then the unthinkable happened. Roczen’s rear tire rolled through the rut as his bikes suspension unloaded. He launched his HRC Honda CRF450R over the second jump, almost a 40 foot distance that sent him hurling into midair. Floating through the air, defenselessly flailing arms and legs knowing what was approaching next. He ditched his bike and careened into the ground. The impact was devastating. The crowd fell silent as the Asterisks medical crew tended to Roczen and his injuries.
Fans anxiously awaited any sort of movement from Roczen, who lay helplessly on the ground. Roczen, while somehow still conscious, knew that the extent of his injuries were not good. As the Medical Crew got him loaded on the stretcher the crowd awoke a loud cheer watching a crowd favorite be hauled off the track.
The Damage had been done:
As the news broke, it was worse than anyone could imagine. His arm had taken the force of the impact which had snapped his radius and ulna which then compound fractured out of his skin; Pieces of his thumb logged into his wrist, and his Scaphoid crumbled. Ligaments pulled from the bone and his wrist and elbow were both dislocated. After a dreadful, excruciating 15 hours of waiting for surgery in LA, Ken was rushed to Vail, Colorado for surgery. Upon arrival, the doctor diagnosed Ken with Compartment Syndrome stating, “He was just 6 hours shy from amputation”. The Doctor approached the first surgery with the mindset of saving his arm, with no thought of ever riding again.
Over the course of the next few months Ken underwent 9 surgeries to try to repair the damage to his arm. When the 10th and final surgery approached, Ken had grown impatient. Over the course of the next few months of healing Roczen refused to mourn his accident. He just knew he had to get back out there and that’s exactly what he did.
Drive, Determination, and motivation
With hard work, dedication and a lot of therapy, Roczen regained physical activity with his arm and then eventually returning to the bike.With a little more protection than before the crash, now sporting a new Mobius Wrist Brace. Roczen had stated that just lining up for the 2018 season would be a victory. So he did just that. He made the decision to return to the sport less than a year after the injury. Working hard to be race ready by the beginning of supercross season which was just a few weeks shy of the 1 year anniversary of his crash.
Fast Forward to this past Saturday January 11, 2020. Ken was once again lining with some of the best riders in the sport. Already winning the heat race that night, Ken had a little bit more pressure on him for the main event. The gate drops, and Ken comes out of the turn in second place. He has his sights set on Zack Osborne who is currently in the first place position. He is charging hard for that number one spot but paces himself. He waits and seizes the perfect opportunity for the pass.
He sees the opening and takes it; block passes Osborne in the turn, nearly missing a collision. Roczen then checked out, he knew he had to give it all he had if he wanted to keep the first place position with Barcia closely behind. He had built an 8-second lead and was able to cruise comfortably to the victory.
It had been over 3 years since Ken Roczen’s Last Supercross win. 1,092 days since he got to stand on the podium and hold the number 1 trophy. You could almost feel the emotions radiating from his family, Crew, and the fans supporting him. Roczen’s story is inspiring, and really shows you how unpredictable this sport truly is. Someone can so easily go from the top to rock bottom, and you have to be determined to get yourself back up there. Roczen has proven that no matter how much pain and suffering you have endured, you can overcome it.
As a fan of this sport, I am looking forward to seeing what Ken Roczen can do this 2020 Supercross season. This win is definitely a confidence booster that I think can drive him through the rest of this season. Ken has demonstrated that it is possible to overcome his hardships he has faced since his injury. He could have easily given up the sport, but his ambition and hunger to succeed prevented him from doing so. Ken Roczen is truly an inspiration. Don’t Call it a Comeback, Call it passion to succeed.