Great Northwest Nationals Race Report
WORDS AND IMAGES BY: JASON "SHOOTER" MCGUIRE
USA BMX took over the Bank of the Cascades arena for the Great Northwest Nationals! Known for the beautiful scenery and world-famous Deschutes Brewery, this is the place to be this weekend as stop number 8 of the 2014 USA BMX National Series invades Redmond, OR!
The first thing that many people immediately noticed about this year’s event was the new name the area has adopted. Unlike last year and many years prior to that, the name Hooker Creek was removed from the title and that same building is now the Bank of the Cascades Arena. However, the name on the outside is not what is important; it is the racing inside.
The pre-race kicked off for the weekend's event with 107 action-packed motos. While still small compared to the normal national days, it was time to go racing in Redmond! This year’s track compliments itself quite well to the riders capable of staying the smoothest, which results from the mass amount of flow that comes with this race every year. That being said, riders from around the country loved the track and from my understanding, there was not much to complain about. A long sprint out of the gate and out of the first turn really helped separate those who are doing sprints and those who are not. The second straight showcased an elongated step-up-down that allowed the faster and more skillful riders to gap between that and the next obstacle. All three turns are setup to allow for some beautiful passing opportunities so anyone in the lead will have to protect the inside lines more than usual.
This weekend is shaping up to be quite the barnburner here in Redmond, OR and there is sure to be multiple upsets by the time the last gate drops on Sunday. Stay tuned for the updated photo gallery throughout the day as well as the end of day race report later this evening.
The main events kicked off with a thundering roar as the crowd came to life after the A pros were announced. The 258-moto day was chugging towards the end and spectators were on the edge of their seats as they prepared to watch some of the top A pro riders duke it out.
My biggest question is how has Austin Hiatt not picked up a sponsor after his recent performances? This kid has been on fire and he once again when 3/3 in his main events today after beating some pretty stiff competition. Pete Pascual gave him everything he had, but it was just not enough to get the job done. The hometown hero, Kristian Cooper looked great all day until the main event. The bad luck kept piling up and he was unable to throw his hat in the bucket for the podium, but he will definitely be in the hunt tomorrow after a solid day. Another pair of guys that will be on the hunt for Hiatt is Boise, ID's Matt Baisley who missed out on the main after a wreck and some bad luck. Also on that list is the guy who pulled a third place podium slot, Matthew Rubeck.
The Jr. Devo class saw a new name pop into the win column today. Phoenix Pro Cycle's Brian Ensey dominated the class all day long. Sure there was a lot of stiff competition such as Jacob Haley, Ryan Puckett and Jason Boyle, but Ensey seemed to leave everyone else in a separate area code. Either way, he has shown us some serious speed and is not a guy that should be taken lightly.
The amateur main events were nothing short of spectacular. The super tight hairpin last turn left for some very interesting finishes as well as some serious upsets in qualifying rounds. One of those upsets was Extreme Team's Robby Patterson. Sitting solid in qualifying position for the main event, a misjudgment and hold up with Evan Steinberg had him riding the soft stuff off to the side and diminishing his main event appearance. That same section bit again when Tangent's Jacob Abbe was leading the 17-18x main when too much speed out of turn three left him in the soft stuff and both Justin Anderson and Andrew Townsend pulled away, making Abbe settle for a third.
Speaking of top amateur races, Kohl Piluso may not be a household name, but he sure is good! He rides for Phoenix Pro Cycles and while he has had some impressive finishes at the World Championships, Kohl does not hit a lot of nationals. Nonetheless he dominated the 11x class today after beating some tough competition in Nick Adams and Reilly Johnson just to name a couple. Be on the lookout for him as I am sure he will be right in the mix for the win at every race he attends.
In the girls classes, the Shriver sisters; Esja, Richelle and Katja cleaned house over their three age groups. It is quite the treat to see three sisters go out and pick up wins across the board like they did. Scott of at J&R definitely saw something in these girls when first sponsoring them and now I can understand why. They remind me a lot of the Mitchell boys, only they are the Shriver girls. Both win, A LOT!
Day one turned out to be quite the success for both racers and spectators. Tomorrow's races should bring even more great excitement and it will be great to see riders try and redeem themselves for misfortunes today. Or for the riders, who were victorious, see if they can throw down repeat performances here at the Great Northwest Nationals! Stay tuned for live updates on the USA BMX Facebook page throughout the day and as always, keep the rubber side down!
Traditionally, I try to post the Sunday race report as soon as I can after the races conclude. Unfortunately this one is a bit delayed due to being hit with a good old case of food poisoning. Alas, that is not going to keep this report from launching, even if it is a couple of days later than usual.
Sunday morning rolled in and riders were ready to go for day number two of the Great Northwest Nationals. After all of the great racing yesterday, some were feeling a bit slighted by their results and came into Sunday with one goal: make the main.
Jr. Devo was all about Phoenix Pro Cycles Brian Ensey once again as he popped out of the gate like a bottle rocket on the fourth of July. Staats' Jason Boyle desperately tried to make something happen, but Ensey was just too far ahead for anything to stick. Ensey would once again walk away with the win with Boyle in second and Free Agent~Tangent's Jacob Haley rounding out the top three.
A pro was once again electric! For the second day in a row the main event kicked off with a rollout that got the crowd on there feet and cheering for their favorite rider. The Privateer Austin Hiatt had a huge target on his back and the other seven riders in the gate wanted to make sure he did not take the win two days in a row. Round one was on fire as Pete Pascual got the holeshot and Hiatt sat stalking in second. When they entered turn two, Hiatt went into full attack mode trying to make the move into first, but was a bit too aggressive and ended up taking a dirt sample that would make his day that much harder. Hiatt would not let it happen twice and made sure to get out front early in rounds two and three, taking both of those wins. In the end, Pascual was far too consistent and grabbed the overall win while Hiatt's 8-1-1 was enough to secure second place and Kevin Shankel came in strong with a solid third.
The amateur racing was just as good as day one, if not better. Oregon's favorite Bike Shop team, Black Box Industries~Basic Bike Co. had a pair of ladies that were all over the competition throughout the weekend. Olivia Armstrong had been chasing Crupi's Anna Johnson all weekend and could not make the pass when it mattered. However, she took the gate snap, holeshot and everything else in their 13-14-girl cruiser battle on Sunday. She took home the win by a commanding lead and continued the awesome rivalry that these two girls hold. It is always awesome watching them race each other and how they will make blocks and swoops on one another. Either way, Olivia Armstrong earned her win and also picked up the Carve page in the latest issue of PULL Magazine, so be sure to check that out. Another girl on Adam Treadwell's team is Jaydra Kinsey who has been a solid performer over the last year. She dominated the 17-20 girls cruiser class and picked up the win both days by more than the length of the final straight. Be on the lookout for the entire Black Box Industries team who has been making a solid impact as one of the young bike shop teams and they are surely going to try and make a push for the NO.1 Bike Shop title at the end of the year.
The men's cruiser class had a couple of impressive performances in Factory Blaze's Jason Miller and Redline's George Goodall. While there were quite a few riders who had some great victories, these two were really on top of their game. Miller grabbed the win in 36-40 after not racing cruiser on Saturday and Goodall picked up a double-double between both bikes throughout the weekend. Who says older guys can't kill it? Even though neither of them are "old" ha-ha
Two of the Phoenix Pro Cycles ladies were helping out in a big way with the winning Factory team sheet. Both Kelsey Van Ogle and Leyna Jones strung together some solid rides that granted them both with the win. Kelsey looks like she is determined to win another National Championship and if she continues to ride how she has been, that could definitely be a possibility. Leyna Jones is still quite young, but she is definitely on the fast track of becoming a great female BMX racer. Either way, these two girls are going to be hard to beat all year long.
Ty Beadle, Tyler Grigsby and Peter Choat are three little dudes who really know how to ride. Both Ty and Tyler picked up double wins in 7 and 8x while Choat was able to overcome a hard riding Justin York on Sunday and pick up the win. On top of that, Choat found himself on the front side of the Great Northwest Nationals event shirts, which I also heard he was signing autographs up at the Phoenix pits to anyone who came by rocking one of the awesome shirts.
Jumping up a few age groups, Canadian National NO.1 Amateur, Alex Tougas, had something to say about Phoenix's Brian Ensey. Out of the gate and into turn one these two were bar to bar and neither rider was backing down. Tougas was to smooth and perfect for Ensey to set up any sort of pass and that would leave him with a second place finish while Tougas picked up the win and proved that he is just not fast in Canada, he can win WORLD WIDE!
The last rider I want to talk about in this race report is yet again another Phoenix rider, and another Van Ogle. Lain Van Ogle was sitting in the NO.1 spot for the National NO.1 Amateur title last year when he injured his ankle that took him out of the running and kept him off the bike for months. We saw him in Phoenix, but it was just not the same Lain we had seen in the past. Well, this weekend was an immediately sign that he is back on it and ready to make another run at the title. He doubled this weekend in 19-27x, which is never easy to do and he was riding faster than ever. He will definitely be in the hunt for the title this year as long as he can stay healthy and continue to win. Either way, look out for Lain in 2014.
The Great Northwest Nationals turned out to be an awesome weekend of racing and hopefully we can make it back for years to come. This event always provides great facilities and even better dirt for one of the smoothest indoor tracks that riders get to race on throughout the year. Be sure to check out the remainder of the coverage in the next issue of PULL Magazine as well as more great images from the weekend!