Tanner Hall is strapping into his skis this weekend at X Games Aspen for the first time since 2009. It’s been a long journey back to the sport for the seven-time X Games gold medalist. Just three years ago it looked as if Tanner Hall’s greatest opponent – himself – would ultimately destroy his promising career.
In 2009, Tanner overshot a landing and crashed to the earth, “breaking both of his tibial plateaus, tearing his ACL in both knees, and destroying most of the cartilage in his right knee.” Tanner’s doctor warned him that it may be time to focus on other aspects of skiing besides competing. In other words, Tanner’s entire world was crashing down. Tanner chose to compete and find a way back. He went through multiple surgeries and months of rehab in a wheelchair, he tried controversial drug treatments, and continued to fight immense bouts of pain. Tanner’s downward spiral started when he turned to alcohol and drugs as “an escape.” It was right after that he became addicted to pain medication.
Tanner was denying a problem and rejecting any attempts to sober up until one of his close friends died in a ski crash. “That was a real eye opener,” Tanner said. “So I quit.”
Tanner had to get his life – and his sport – back. So he continued to rehab and push through without the haze of pain medications or alcohol. He’d spend five hours a day in the gym and no matter the pain, Tanner wouldn’t let up. In August 2012, only days after Red Bull dropped him from their athlete roster, Tanner won his first halfpipe contest at the New Zealand Freeski Open and made headlines that the former star was back. Now stronger and better than ever, Tanner is returning to the X Games a new man.