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Back in Business with Jordon Smith | Fox Feature

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Photo courtesy of Steve Giberson/Vital MX

For Jordon Smith, getting married to his wife Katie was the brightest spot in what could easily be considered an otherwise forgettable year. After signing with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for 2020-21, Smith injured his knee in a pre-season test session but was able to rehab the joint well enough to enter the new season. Though he did his best to prepare for the Eastern Regional 250 Supercross. Championship, Smith’s results in the first three events were far from what he and his sponsors knew that he was capable of. Fifth at the series kickoff in Tampa, 13th in Arlington and fourth in Atlanta – scores that some would be proud of – but for Smith, anything less than a win left him wanting more. A crash at the Daytona Supercross brought his season to an abrupt halt, though, as a more serious injury to his already tender knee mandated surgery, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. 

In the past two months, Smith has gotten back on a bike, has gotten married, and is ready to dive into testing the new 2021 Kawasaki KX250 in preparation for Supercross 2021. We caught up with Smith to see what his thoughts on 2020 and beyond are.

Jordon, it’s good to see you back in action! How long have you been on a bike again?

I don’t know exactly. Pretty much, I rode a little bit before I got married, which was the end of September, but not necessarily training or anything, just was riding a little bit, and then after I got back from the honeymoon, which was October 3rd I think, I started back training like that Monday after. It’s been about a month and a half back actually, of full-on training and stuff again.

You got hurt just before the whole COVID-19 pandemic started…

Yeah. (Laughs) I thought I might not even miss any races for a little while.

Was it an obvious need-surgery injury, or was it one you could have done in the off-season?

No, it was pretty obvious. I had hurt it a little bit in the offseason, actually, like my first week on the Kawi. I was just riding some outdoors and hit a rock in a rut and kind of dabbed it weird. At the time, we thought that it was just my MCL, and the MRI showed that there was a possible tear of my ACL, but it wasn’t necessarily clear that it was a tear. I went and saw the doctor. He felt it, and he said it wasn’t too bad; like it was one of the things where it definitely wasn’t obvious for surgery or anything, I could rehab it back up and everything.

I had to take a month, I think it was a month, maybe five weeks off to let the MCL and everything heal up. I was just doing some therapy and stuff on it. Then it had gotten back pretty good before the season started. In the crash I had in Daytona, I just went down on it weird. It was already obviously weak from the crash in October during the off-season, so it just didn’t really have the strength to withstand the impact. I just kind of finished it off there, I think. It was pretty obvious at that point. I had a couple of injuries going on that were just lingering, and it was pretty obvious I just needed to take the time off and just get it fixed and try and get everything healed back up to 100%.

Okay, so you get hurt, and you’re like, “Dang, the season’s over,” but then they cancel Indy because of the whole COVID-19 crisis. What was that like for you to hear that news and be in this time where you needed surgery? They were saying, “No elective surgeries.,” on the news. Was there any hassle for you getting that thing done?

There kind of was. It was actually literally the week that I went to get surgery, I actually came out to California, and I got surgery with Dr. Greenbaum out here, and it was like literally the week of surgery when they started implementing all the restrictions and really putting them into place. Something went on!  I was on my way to surgery the morning of and they called me and said they were going to have to postpone a couple of hours. Usually, you go in super early for surgery. I think it was like 4:45 in the morning or something, and we were already an hour and 15 minutes away from the house, so we’re like, “Well, what do we do?”

My wife, she had a friend that lived kind of close by, and luckily that she was already up, so we went and hung out over there for a couple of hours, and they called back. They said, “the surgery center is closing down, so we’re not going to be able to have surgery today. We’ll call you. We’re going to try and figure something out, and we’ll call you back.” That was on a Wednesday and I ended up getting surgery on that Friday at a different surgery center. Luckily, I got it in because, if not, it could have been a month or two months extra recovery time.

That could have made a difference in your racing at the start of 2021!

Yeah. For sure. Instead of getting back on the bike a month and a half, two months ago, I would just now be getting back on the bike, which is a pretty significant difference.

You kind of lucked out that Dr. Greenbaum is like the motocross guy, right? 

100%, yeah!

I’m sure he pushed to get this done for you knowing how important it is to your career as opposed to a non-enthusiast surgeon…

Yeah. He did. He did. Yeah, I got very lucky that I got in touch with Dr. Greenbaum and that he was the one doing my surgery and stuff because, as you said, he’s obviously very in tune with our sport in general, so it was good for him to be able to work, and I was very thankful for that.

Crazy. Was it stressful at all, having surgery in the height of the initial scare of the pandemic, or did you have the same attitude then as you have now about it?

I mean, I pretty much had the same attitude then as I do now. I mean, for me, it was almost like, “Well, we’re already here in California,” and I was going to stay in the pool house here that I live in at my friend’s. We were going to be here for two weeks anyways, so it was like if there was a time for everything to be shut down, it might as well be while I’m here laid up on the couch with an ACL injury. It was kind of like as it was happening, I was like, “Well, I mean, if this is going to happen, there’s really no better time for it to happen.”

What a crazy way that the Supercross series unfolded, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, what was it like to watch it?

Yeah, I mean, it was pretty crazy. On one hand, I was like, “Well, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.” Then the other hand, even though I was missing time, I still wanted everything in our sport to go as smoothly as possible, and I didn’t want the sport to have to miss time. I don’t want to be pulling for that while I’m hurt. If I’m going to be hurt, I mean, they might as well keep racing anyways. I would want them to keep racing and not have to end up shutting down. Do you know what I’m saying?

It was kind of a bummer to see just for such a question mark, but it was like the whole entire world was kind of a question mark, and a little bit still is, so it was just a weird time. It’s like the whole time I was sitting there waiting. We heard rumors of Supercross not starting back up until like August or September, and I thought, “Maybe I could possibly make it back for that,” but at the same time, we were hearing just so many different things, so we just really didn’t know what was going to go on.

Then they got all the Supercrosses done in Utah, and then they opened up the outdoor season. The whole time, I just wondered like everyone else if it was actually going to go how they said it was going to. I think that they really did a pretty good job of being able to get as many races as they were done and to have somewhat of a normal season.

Hey, with all the COVID restrictions for events, did it affect your wedding?

Yeah, a little bit. Obviously, one of the big things was they had… Obviously, the outdoor season got pushed back, so the weekend of WW Ranch motocross event was the same weekend as our wedding. Obviously, we have a lot of friends that were invited to the wedding so we had to reschedule, and we also had to cut our lists down pretty significantly. We had around 300 people that we invited to the wedding, and that had to get cut down to only 75 for the ceremony and 150 for the reception, but we were just glad at that point just to be able to have the wedding and have people at the wedding. I mean, even though we went from 300 to 150 for the reception and stuff, it’s a lot better than having to postpone it until next year or something. 

Your poor wife. I’m sure she has going nuts.

Oh, she was. She was doing all the planning and stuff. She was a trooper through it all.

Okay, back to moto. You’re surrounded by a few new teammates. What are your thoughts about the squad for ’21?

Yeah. I mean, I think we’re looking good. Not everyone’s out here riding yet. Cameron McAdoo and I have been out here riding Supercross and stuff, and that’s going good. No one else is back on Supercross yet. We’re excited to get the whole team out there. We have a new bike for next year, and we’re excited to get going testing on that and get that thing dialed in. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it, so we’re excited to get on it soon and get that thing dialed in and get ready to go for the new season.

You have an all-new bike in the 2021 KX250. It was kind of odd how Mitch and the team never really raced with the 2020 engine that was new, but now that the 2021 is all-new again, it all makes sense…

Yeah. I’m not sure… I just kind of… I mean, obviously, I just got on the team last year, so that’s just what they said that we were going to run, and that’s what I did. Then I did hear that pretty early last year that they were coming out with a completely new bike in ’21. I don’t really know if that had anything to do with it or not because I think that Mitch was still working on the ’20 a lot throughout the season, but I mean, it worked out good. The ’19 bike was really good. I guess I’ve heard nothing but good things about the ’21, so I’m really-

So you have yet to throw your leg over one…

Right, but we’re supposed to be on it on Monday, so we’ll see. 

How do you like your new number?:

I mean, it’s good. My mom texted me whenever the numbers came out. She’s like, “I like it. You like it?” I’m like, “Yeah, I mean, it’s cool., but at this point, it’s just a number. I don’t really care about any number unless I get the number one!” But 80 is cool, I guess.

What are your thoughts about the ’21 Supercross schedule, the way they’re running three here, three there?

I think it’s going to be pretty cool. I mean, it’s definitely different, but as I said, everything in the world right now is different, and we just have to adapt as we go along, but I think it’s going to be challenging from many different standpoints with the team trying to get in and our and get some testing done. Usually, you have a week in between to get recovered. But now we’ll just be trying to recover from Saturday to Tuesday. If everything goes well, then it will be good, but if something happens, then that should just be a little bit of a pinch. But I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’ll be good. I mean, if you come in ready, and you’re ready to go, it’s like, bam, you knock out three races in seven days, and if you could get on a nice roll right there right off the start. In seven days, you can have a pretty good start to your championship. If you like the dirt and like everything about it, I think it’ll be good.

Well, hey, man, thanks for the time today and we are looking forward to running into you at the track someday soon.

All right. Yep. Sounds good. I’ll see you out there I’m sure.

 

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Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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