Heading into 2018, many journalists—myself included—picked Red Bull / KTM’s Marvin Musquin as the odds on favourite to win the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross 450SX Championship. Marvin had a virtually perfect offseason, winning every race he entered. With his teammate and friend Ryan Dungey retiring, Marvin looked poised for a run at the vacated Supercross Championship.

After winning round 1, everything was going as planned, but a heat race crash at round 2 in Houston changed everything. Marvin separated his shoulder in the crash at Houston, and while the title hopes were all but gone, Marvin continued to race through the pain and is just now beginning to get that confidence back that he had heading into season. While the #25 is now 43 points behind Jason Anderson and a long shot for the title, after a second place finish in San Diego over the weekend, we will not be surprised if the wins start coming soon.

Musquin-crowd.jpg#asset:4779

After his podium finish at Petco Park, Chris Cooksey got a chance to ask Marvin about the injury he sustained, his relationship with training partner Jason Anderson and his much criticized whoop speed.

MXlarge: Marv, how was your night overall? It seemed like about halfway through the main event you really found a groove.

Musquin: Yeah, maybe I was getting a little bit better throughout the main. Riding was maybe getting better. I was finding new lines and I was able to get pretty consistent in the whoops, which was not the case for the other guys. For example, [Justin] Barcia, I think he got me at the end of the whoops, but then he was making big mistakes. I was able to stay light in the whoops and pretty clean. I was surprised I was able to catch [Cole] Seely and [Jason] Anderson a little bit. I feel like I was in a good position for the main off the start. Barcia got me and that made me a little bit mad because I was in a good position and I was like, “no.” He got me and, not slow me down, but I had to pass him again. That’s what I did and it was a good thing for the end.

MXLarge: Obviously, everybody is still talking about the incident with you and Jason Anderson last week. Did you see Jason out there and did it create a little extra motivation for you? There’s no better revenge served than to beat him. Was that in the back of your mind tonight?

Musquin: Yeah, for sure, but at the end of the day, I really focused on myself—especially because I’m still not 100%. The shoulder is not 100%, so I just want to get better and get back to full confidence. Then I will be able to fight against him. Last weekend, to be honest, I was going through the turn and didn’t see him coming, so I hit his bike.

MXLarge: I’m very familiar with shoulder injuries. I saw the way you landed in the crash at Houston and that looked very much to me like a shoulder separation or a shoulder dislocation. It looked like it was out and you were trying to get it in.

Musquin-attacks.jpg#asset:4777

Musquin: Yeah, a couple years ago at Glen Helen my shoulder popped out, but I moved my arm and it went back in so that was okay. This time it was out on the back. I could feel it and was trying to move it to put it back in, but nothing happened. When I got off the track, the Alpinestars medical guy put it back in. That was good, but after that, the memory or the reaction from the muscle was nothing. I tried to get on the bike, and I’m like, “I don’t want to go out there off the big triple,” and what about the landing. It’s scary and mentally it’s very difficult. Right now the muscle—like right on the back—is very sore, but on the bike it feels pretty good so I’m happy. On the bike, it’s pretty tough.

MXlarge: Did you have an MRI? Was the labrum okay?

Musquin: I did. The labrum had a minor tear and impact on the bowl of the shoulder [the cup your upper arm sits in].

MXlarge: Yeah, those are usually injuries you can ride through. It’s just a matter of if you can tolerate the pain. Was the labrum not bad enough to where they worried about it tearing more or another separation?

Musquin: A normal person would have stayed three weeks in a sling. That’s what the doctor told me, but we know athletes like us want to keep riding. I actually did therapy the whole week and started doing band exercises. The Friday after I actually felt pretty good on the bike and decided to race Anaheim 2 the next day. That’s why your confidence goes down.

MXlarge: Some of your critics like to point out your struggles through the whoops or your whoops speeds, and they talk about how you immediately resort to jumping through them instead of skimming them. In tonight’s heat race you lost four or five spots through the whoops, but you were better in the main. Is it because when they are fresh early in the night, guys have more confidence through them, but as they break down and get more technical, you get better in them?

Musquin: No, they just go really fast entering and my entering speed in the whoops is a little slow. It’s hard to build up speed into it, but in the main, I just wanted to be consistent. The bike was better too.

MXlarge: The bike was better? What did you guys do to it before the main?

Musquin: Just the positioning of the bike, it was a little easier for me to ride it.

MXlarge: When you say positioning, are you talking about handle bars, suspension—what do you mean?

Musquin: Suspension, just height and stuff like that.

Musquin-colour.jpg#asset:4778