X Games - Adaptive Sports

X Games

Driven by something much deeper and more permanent than mere accolades, the paraplegic and amputee athletes of the thirteenth annual X Games routinely conquer their disabilities by returning to the sports that are responsible for their injuries. With crucial funding and promotion courtesy of Adaptive Action Sports, these athletes hit the X Games ready to win.

ABILITY Magazine’s Stan Hoskins spoke with a few of the participants of the Moto X competition before and after the event. Their stories were as unique as the sport they love.

Chris Ridgway

Chris Ridgway had dreams of taking home his third X Games medal. But the day before his big race, a devastating blow to the knee during practice rendered him unable to put any weight on his leg, with or without his prosthetic.

The injury took place during the athlete’s second practice session, when Ridgway came down the backstretch of a jump and was just off-center enough to throw his weight over the handlebars. His knee stopped his launch, but the triple clamps rendered painful damage.

Stan Hoskins: You’ve been a dirt bike rider for most of your life?

Chris Ridgway: Yup. I started riding dirt bikes in 1980, and since about 1984 I’ve been riding a lot. Eventually I made it up into the pro ranks. My second professional race was here at the
Coliseum, back in ‘92. I just love riding dirt bikes.

Hoskins: Tell me a little bit about your injury and about coming back to ride again.

Ridgway: In 1995 I was practicing for the outdoor nationals on a track, just pounding out laps. I missed a big jump and my bike broke, mid-air. I had to jump off, and ended up crushing both of my legs, my ankles and my heels. I spent a couple years in a wheelchair.

The doctors didn’t amputate right away, so I just kept going, doing what I could do to see where I could take myself. I started racing again, and I kept breaking my leg. The doctors kept breaking it to try to fix it, to try to make it better. And finally I asked to have it removed so I could just kind of move on with my life.

Hoskins: So you knew, right after your amputation, that you were going to keep riding?

Ridgway: I was pretty sure. I didn’t know, because I had never lost a leg before.

Hoskins: [laughs] Sure.

Ridgway: I didn’t know how the amputation was going to feel. I just knew that I wanted to do it.

Hoskins: Tell me about participating in a big event like the X Games and about riding on a course that seems pretty intense.

Ridgway: It’s great to be on such a big stage. You wouldn’t be talking to me if we weren’t here at the X Games, you know? I love it. We’re on television, I get sponsorships, I get all kinds of stuff because of this race. I really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun for me to be out here again.

Hoskins: It’s got to feel good, too, knowing that this is the same course on which people without disabilities are racing. The stage is just as intense for them as it is for you.

Ridgway: Actually, they did cut out the whoop-dee-doos for us, because those things are too hard for us to get through. But we’re doing all the jumps. It’s crazy.

Hoskins: Three years ago, would you have imagined doing what you’re doing, at this level?

Ridgway: No. I didn’t think we’d be at the X Games, but I knew from my riding that I was going a lot faster than a lot of people do who don’t have a disability. So in that sense I kind of thought there would be a place for us to go. I’m glad to be here, and it’s a little intimidating, because the track is so big. But it’s fun, and I can see us going even further than this.

Hoskins: What’s it like to return to the Coliseum with your injury? Is it a little weird being back here?

Ridgway: No, it’s actually nice. A lot of the guys that I used to race against are now team managers and mechanics, and they’re still involved in the sport. So it’s kind of cool. I get to see a lot of the people I used to see when I was younger.

Hoskins: So what was the X Games experience like for you?

Ridgway: This year, it didn’t go so well for me. I got hurt in practice the day before the race. I went to the medical truck and the medics drained my knee and filled it up with Novocaine and I was told I wouldn’t be able to race. I wasn’t able to defend my Gold Medal.

Hoskins: Will you be back next year?

Ridgway: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m not ready to quit yet.

Ricky James

In 2005 Ricky James was a top amateur talent on the verge of turning pro when he suffered a crash that left him paralyzed from the chest down. A natural racer at heart, James built a bike that would allow him to keep riding.

James’ impressive accomplishments extend far beyond Moto X racing. He’s completed a 125 mile stint in the challenging Baja 500, as well as the grueling Ironman Triathlon in Kona, HI. He’s also a top contender in off-road truck racing and attends college classes where he learns 3-D drawing programs. He hopes to use this knowledge to develop more parts for his bikes, trucks and chair.

Hoskins: What’s it like to be able to take part in the X Games?

James: It’s pretty sweet, you know? Not a lot of people get an opportunity to ride in the X Games. It’s cool that these events are so adaptive and that they’ve been progressing so well.

This year the athletes are split up among amputees and paraplegics, so it’s more fair. It’s amazing that guys with one leg can still ride, but they’re in their own class. We who are sitting down, being strapped in, have a pretty level playing field no matter what level of paraplegic we might be. I think the games are becoming even more fair and that will make for good races.

Hoskins: You’ve competed in the X Games since the year they began, right?

James: I’ve competed the past two years, yeah. The first year I got second overall, behind Chris Ridgway, and got a silver medal. Then, last year, we were told they were going to split up the classes, but they didn’t, and I ended up getting fourth overall. So I didn’t get a medal.... continued in ABILITY Magazine
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Articles in the Greg Louganis Issue; Ashley’s Column — Bringing Home the Gold; Sen. Tom Harkin — Where Are the Jobs?; Renne Gardner — Running With My Son; The Pearls — Stories That Demand to Be Heard; Amy Edwards — A Living Special Effect; Adaptive Sports — Getting Back in the Game; X Games Uncovered — Taking the Inside Track; Cityzen — A Whole New Voice in Rock and Roll; Adaptive Sailing — Finding Your Sea Legs; Greg Louganis — Still Diving Into Life; HIV and AIDS — Battling a Fatal Disease; Bad Boys — Cracking Down on Discrimination; Healthy Hoops — Take Your Best Shot ; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences... subscribe

Excerpts from the Greg Louganis Oct/Nov 2010 Issue:

Greg Louganis — Interview

The Pearls — Stories That Demand to Be Heard

Adaptive Action Sports — Getting Back in the Game

X Games Uncovered — Taking the Inside Track

Toby Forrest with the Band Cityzen

Renne Gardner — Running With My Son

Healthy Hoops — Take Your Best Shot

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