Tanner Hall and freestyle skiing go hand-in-hand; the things he’s achieved over the course of his career make it hard to imagine one without the other. That’s why it’s so difficult to head into this season knowing that Tanner won’t be on skis for the entire winter.
A devastating crash at Stevens Pass in Washington back in May left Tanner with fractured tibial plateaus in both legs and two blown knees, and he’s currently only about halfway through his recovery. He’s not letting it get him down, however, using it as another opportunity to just get stronger. We caught up with Tanner as he blazed through Red Bull HQ recently, and he let us in on his upcoming plans…
How has this injury and recovery process compared to the ones you’ve been through before?
This process has definitely been a lot gnarlier. If it would have just been the broken bones, I think it would have been similar to my ankles on Chad’s Gap. I had to get surgery May 22nd to reset the bones on my tibial plateaus in both legs. They didn’t do my ACLs right away; they wanted me to heal up from the breaks and get all my motion back and get some strength back before I went into the ACLs. The rough thing was that it was a two-part injury. I felt like I fully healed from the breaks, and my legs got to a strong point where I felt I could ski again, but right when I got to that point I had to go in for my first ACL reconstruction on August 24th. Six weeks later on October 6th I went in for my right knee.
This is the first winter I’ll ever miss in my life. I had four surgeries over the summer, I’ve been in a gym and in physical therapy rooms and surgical rooms all summer long. It’s been pretty brutal man, but this injury is way different from the other ones in that I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve learned how to have patience. I’m taking care of some business that I never would have taken care of, like finishing my high school diploma.
"For how bad it is, I feel like I’m going to come back stronger than ever." -Tanner Hall
It’s rough. It’s been about seven months since I got hurt, and it’s going to take about another six or seven months until I’m fully healed and ready to go. I’m just trying to stay positive. For how bad it is, I feel like I’m going to come back stronger than ever, so it’s almost a blessing in disguise.
So you can say that some positive things came out of this injury?
You definitely find out who your true friends are and who the people are that are really there for you and want the best for you, rather than people who just want something from you. I’ve got the best friends, the best family, and the best sponsors to support me through this tough time.
The main thing I’ve learned is patience. I’ve been such an instant gratification type of person my whole life. I learned how to sit back, take the bad with the good, and not just stress out about staying at the top level all time. Once you start doing that, stuff like this happens. I’m just learning how to take my time and fall in love with skiing all over again. It’s perfect.
What’s been the hardest thing to deal with?
Not skiing. It sucks. My legs feel good when I’m walking around, I have full range of motion, I can run, but to think about how good I feel right now and that I still have six months to go… This is insane. But that’s where the patience comes into play, and for every hard thing there’s always an easy thing, and for every bad thing there’s always a good thing. That’s another thing that I’m learning. It’s all right, I’m keeping my sanity and I’m staying positive and that’s the number one thing.
So what are your plans for this season?
I’m trying to organize making chapter one of my documentary this year. There’s been so much that’s happened in my life in skiing that I’d really like to tell people the story up until now, and set myself up for chapter two when I’m like 40 years old. Outside of that, I’m just going to travel around; I’m going to go to the Red Bull New Year. No Limits thing, I’m going to go to the Olympics and stay at the Red Bull house, do some interviews with some of the athletes, head over to the Red Bull Linecatcher big-mountain event in France, hit the X Games, a couple of Dew Tour stops…
I just started my own record label with Cali P, a reggae-dancehall artist out of Zurich, Switzerland, so I’m getting ready to put a recording studio in the basement of my house. I’m just trying to start the next phase of my life; it’s definitely an exciting time, a little bit nerve-wracking, but it’s good. I’m trying to set up everything so that when I get back on my skis, it’ll just be lining up all the ducks in a row and knockin’ ‘em down.
What about the following season?
When I first got hurt, I thought that contests were out just because of how bad my body was going to feel, but I’m more confident than ever that I’m ready to get back on my skis and—maybe I’ll take the first year slow, not just jump in a halfpipe and start damaging my body again as soon as they say go. Maybe take a year, make a movie, get all my tricks back in the pipe, and the year after, just go right back to Dew Tour and X Games and pick up where I left off.
List your top five ways to pass the time during your recovery.
1. Physical Therapy
3. Rock Band. I like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, because I’ve got the Beatles Rock Band. I rip it - I’m always 95% on that on medium on the guitar right now.