Martin Söderström is one of the biggest names on the FMB World Tour. Finishing second overall for the second consecutive time in 2013, he was in a head to head battle with Sam Pilgrim and Brett Rheeder for the overall title when disaster struck on the final jump at Red Bull Joyride during Crankworx Whistler.
Martin attempted a 360 double tailwhip – a highly technical but familiar trick in his repertoire – but landed awkwardly. Martin broke both his fibula and tibia and his battle for the title was over.
The off season period during the winter is usually a time for the riders to practice new tricks in order to gain an advantage over their rivals – for Martin however, it is about rehabilitation and getting healthy.
We hooked up with the slopestyle giant to get an insight into his current health status and find out what his plans are for the upcoming season.
How you doing Martin? What have you been up to recently?
I can’t complain at the moment now when I see the light in the end of the 5 month tunnel. Basically, the only thing on my schedule is to do my rehab every day and get ready for the FMB World Tour season.
How important is it for the athletes to have this 3 – 4 month break?
Very, very important! I don’t think people understand how tiring it is to travel weekly from April-October, with contests every weekend, where you have to be on top of your game. It is tiring both physically and mentally.
This was your first serious injury. What was going through your mind?
Probably the FMB World Tour title. But I quickly understood that this was bigger than the Tour. So I just focused really hard on doing everything right with the recovery.
Do you think this accident has actually made you stronger?
I have definitely learned a lot from it and definitely think I will come back stronger than ever.
When can you start riding and competing again?
The plan is to do my first post-injury tailwhip on the 4th of March – my birthday!
Can we expect you to target the FMB World Tour title in 2014?
It´s really hard when you come back from a big injury, I don’t even know if I will have a month of riding before the first contests start. But if the body feels good I will do everything I can to be back up there!
Obviously we wanted to make sure Martin wasn’t just playing the tough guy – so we also spoke to Darren Roberts, Red Bull's High Performance Manager, who has worked with Martin and other athletes.
How important is it for freeride athletes to train during the off-season?
It's really important, during the season and the off-season. The fitter and stronger they are, the more able to tolerate what they demand from their bodies: the tricks, the hard landings and of course the impacts from crashes! Being in good shape means they can prolong their careers and cope with multiple competitions.
What is your hot tip for riders?
In the gym, strength is the foundation but balance, co-ordination, agility - lots of natural instincts are also important. It’s not just about the weights.
How was working with Martin?
Martin is a great athlete! He came to us and we really pushed him hard, he didn't complain or question anything we were doing. He knew that everything we did was to get him back on a bike as quickly as possible, fitter and stronger than he's ever been.