Post by hammerhead on Sept 11, 2007 20:51:00 GMT 8
On Saturday September 1st 2007, the mountain biking world suffered a tremendous tragedy. While competing in the Jeep King of the Mountain finale in Beaver Creek Colorado, one of the greatest athletes the sport has known, Tara Llanes, suffered a horrific crash during the first run of her semi-final heat. Tara was rushed to Vail Valley Hospital, then airlifted to Denver Health Hospital a short time later. Following seven hours of surgery to the back and spinal cord, it was determined she was paralyzed below the waist.
Tara has been a phenomenal competitor throughout her career, and a dear friend to everyone in the mountain biking community around the world. Her competitiveness, aggressive riding style, and never say die attitude have motivated competitors and spectators alike to dig a little deeper. Tara’s always been there for everyone around her. Whether it be offering advice and encouragement to younger racers, a strong sounding board for her family and friends, or lending a helping hand to anyone in need, she truly possesses the heart of a champion.
It is now that Tara needs the support of the mountain biking family she has cherished throughout her career. Her road through rehabilitation and recovery will be a long and expensive one. Following her two week stay at the Denver Health Hospital, she will begin a six to seven week inpatient rehabilitation stay at the Craig facility, also in Denver Colorado. From there, she will travel back to her home in southern California and continue outpatient physical therapy. As you can imagine, there are a number of costs associated with the entire effort ranging from the immediate medical to rehabilitation, travel, communication, home wheelchair modifications, and so on. Through your generosity, we can make certain Tara receives every opportunity for the best care that can be afforded.
I encourage you, please show Tara your love and support by making a charitable contribution to the Road to Recovery Fund through one of the following avenue:
Mail personal or cashiers checks and money orders to: Tara Llanes Road to Recovery Fund 4068 Green Ave Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Tara Llanes was on the phone from Boston’s Logan Airport. She had just bagged the Biker-Cross silver medal at the Winter X Games and was waiting to jet home to Southern California. Tara, now 23, has been racing mountain bikes for six years and BMX since she was a sprout. The five-foot, four-inch tall Newport Beach, California, girl has more experience than many pros on the mountain bike circuit, but she gives you the impression that every victory is her first one.
TARA’S EARLY DAYS This time, Tara was speaking from her car phone on the way to her favorite BMX track at Coal Canyon. Her BMX racing career began early. She was a very talented athlete who was infamous for thrashing the boys at her local tracks. John Ker, MBA’s chief photographer, was editor of BMX Plus! magazine back then when the tiny rocket caught his eye. “She was a fearless jumper,” says John, “launching double and triple jumps at a time when only a few girls were willing to sky their bikes at all.” During the heyday of BMX racing, Tara won district titles almost every year, won her age group at the U.S. nationals, bagged fourth at the ’93 World Championships in Michigan and went to the ’93 Worlds in Holland.
MBA: “Do you race BMX to stay sharp for the dual slalom?”
Tara: “Even though I’m a mountain bike pro, I’ve always raced BMX. When there’s a break in the season, if I’m not at the track, then I’m out riding my motorcycle. It all helps out.”
MBA: “You began racing mountain bikes when you were about 17, right?”
Tara: “Yeah, I was racing BMX for Haro and they wanted me to give it a try. I was pretty freaked out about it at first, but then I really got into it. I was a junior then and my first race was at the 1993 NORBA Finals at Mammoth. I got second place in the dual slalom. The next year, I turned pro. I wanted to be fast—as fast as the top girls like Missy. When I was 18, I lived in Durango. I moved out when I graduated from high school in ’95.”
MBA: “I knew that you liked to play, but who’d have thought that you were a draft choice? How did a depressed 19-year-old get hooked up with a powerful team like Specialized?”
Tara: “I didn’t want anything to do with mountain bikes, but my mom told me to call Eric Carter. I finally did. Eric was racing for Rotec and Bill Thomas, the team manager once when I was racing BMX and he was at ProForx. He remembered me four years later! That year, I was driving around all over the place racing a Rotec—I wasn’t getting paid to fly. Then I broke my collarbone at the Washington national. I was so bummed. I had a lousy year and I figured that nobody would hire me again after I broke my collarbone.” “Mikki Douglass was racing for Specialized then. She was the biggest help of all the people I have ridden with. Mikki was an amazing person to look up to. She was my competition, but she would tell me what I was doing wrong, where to put my weight and things like that. She let me stay at her house in Washington while I was recovering. Her parents were nice to me. I did a lot of thinking there. I thought. ‘How could I help Rotec?’ Then I went to [NORBA’S race announcer] Peter Graves and asked if I could help with the announcing. He liked the idea and that’s when Specialized noticed me.”