By: Jordan Powell
Geico Powersports Honda rider Wil Hahn was about to have the best 2011 Supercross season, ever. Heading into the first race of the season he was calm, collective, and extremely comfortable on his new bike. All of the hard work he had done during the off-season was paying off, and he felt more ready than he has ever been. When he showed up to the Angel Stadium last Saturday to race, things took a turn for the worse. While he was taking his second practice for the day, an unfortunate accident sent him to the hospital with a broken T-7 vertebra. Now at home, Wilbur walked us through that whole day, and he talked to us about what exactly happened. Seemingly in high spirits, Hahn is doing as well as he possibly could be, and he is looking forward to riding again.
From everyone here at TransWorld Motocross, get well soon Wil!
How were the preparations coming along going into your first race of the 2011 season?
Everything was right on schedule. I felt capable of winning, and everyone on my team felt the same way. The bike was amazing, and going into the first race at Anaheim I felt as ready as I ever have.
When you had your first practice session at the stadium, were you feeling pretty comfortable on the track?
Yeah, I felt comfortable right away. The track was actually really simple. Like I said before, I felt right at home pretty quick, and all of my preparations before hand seemed to be paying off. In my first practice I got a little squirrelly through a section, and I flew off the track. I actually went backwards in a lane, and unfortunately I went down with someone else. Other than that, it was just a stupid mistake, but I walked away feeling pretty fine. The second practice… Man, I don’t know. I was taking things really easy the first couple of laps, and after that I started to go for my fast lap. Everything was going pretty well until I came up to this one corner on the track. The thing that’s pretty weird was that I wasn’t flying around the corner, but I wasn’t exactly cruising either. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what happened after that because everything happened so fast. I know my front end kind of tucked in the corner, and somehow it pitched me right over the front of my bike. Obviously it’s history now, but I still don’t really get how it happened. I’ve just never crashed like that going through a corner before. Unfortunately, I ended up hurting myself pretty good.
Right then and there, did you think something was wrong with your back?
Well, initially I got up and walked off the track. It took a second to hit me because of all of the adrenaline that was going through my body. So, I got up and walked off the track, and I couldn’t breathe at first. The wind got knocked out of me pretty bad, and I was just focusing on getting my breath back. I got down on my hands and knees, but since I had such a hard time breathing, I couldn’t even think of anything else. It was definitely the worst case of getting the wind knocked out of me I’ve ever had. It took some time to get that back, and while I was lying there, I started to feel this burning sensation between my shoulder blades. I wasn’t really sure what to think at that moment. I started to move around, but I honestly thought that maybe I had broke some of my ribs because of the hard time I had breathing. When we got back to the truck, I started to talk to Doc Bodnar and he started to press on my ribs. After he did that, he told me that he didn’t think it was my ribs that were hurting me because he said I would definitely feel that pain. He knew the injury right away. He didn’t even x-ray it — and he couldn’t tell right of that bat which vertebra it was — but he kind of knew right away. My mom and I hoped into the ambulance after that, and we headed to the hospital.
Once you found out that you broke your back, were you pretty scared?
Yeah, a little bit. It’s just that when you have an injury like that, especially at a hospital, everyone has to be really cautious because it’s right by your spinal cord. I’m just grateful and fortunate that I didn’t have that serious of a back break, but they had to treat me like it was because they weren’t sure right away. So after they did an MRI and an x-ray on me, there was a lot of downtime. I mean, I knew my back was broken. They told me that it was broken, but I they didn’t really know the extent of it. If I go into surgery, is it going to be bad? All of these thoughts were running through my mind. When they finally came back, they said that I had broken my T-7 vertebra. As bad as it is, I’m pretty grateful that it wasn’t worse.
While you were in the hospital, how did they treat your injury?
I was flat on my back on the hospital bed, and I had a neck stabilizer on while I waited for the longest time in the trauma unit. I was actually in there until about 3:30 in the morning on Sunday, and then they transferred me into my own room around the same time. I waited in there until about six in the evening, and eventually they just put a back brace on me. After that I was able to stand up and go to the bathroom, and everything checked out. They actually checked everything, and I’m pretty thankful for that, too. They didn’t let anything slide by. Once everything cleared, they let me go home.
So now that you’re home, what kind of recovery time are you looking at?
Right now, we don’t have an exact number, but when I go back to the doctor on the 20th we’ll know more. I’m thinking anywhere from six to 12 weeks, give or take. I guess I don’t really know, and I’ll take things day by day. The most important thing for me right now is to heal up before the outdoor season starts because I’m obviously not going to win a championship in the Supercross series, and I’ll fight for a title there.
What have you been doing since you’ve been home?
Honestly, I’ve been home and I’ve been eating, watching TV, and playing on my Xbox. That’s been about it. Man, I haven’t really left the couch a whole lot, and I’ve just been trying to stay really still. I’m going to let this first week of healing take its course, and I’m going to be cautious.
Dude, that’s pretty unfortunate and we hope that you feel better soon, and that you are back on a bike soon.
Yeah, thanks dude. I appreciate it. I mean it sucks, but at the end of the day you have to think of it as, it could have been worse. Fortunately for me it wasn’t, and I look forward to being back on a bike, too.