2015 Great Northwest Nationals Race Report
WORDS AND IMAGES BY: JASON MCGUIRE
The Great Northwest Nationals has become a staple in the USA BMX National Series for the past seven years. Each year the best from the northwest emerge from their winter slumber and get their bikes running at full speed to compete at this premier event. For the last two, moto counts have surpassed the 250 mark – making this the biggest race north of Las Vegas on the west side of the USA.
Looking at the track this is by far one of the most technically challenging that has ever been built in this arena. A peaky roller waits as riders hit the 30 foot line at the transition of the hill, which is followed by a step-table that most riders handled with ease yesterday. Heading into turn 1 is a double that is on a whole new level of deceiving. With a lip that makes you feel like you are at the trails, manualing has to be perfect to keep it smooth and your jumping has to be somewhere in the middle of launching it and shooting low – many times ending in a case. The second straight requires no pedaling as long as you stay smooth over the step-up to double rollers and onto a double made perfect for tossing in your daily dose of style. During practice, spectators were treated to Extreme Teams Robby Patterson taking off from the roller on the backside of the step-up and jumping to the top of the double into turn two. Definitely not the fastest choice, but it sure looked sweet! The third straight is a deep and burley rhythm with a nice little triple-step-up into the final turn that will definitely provide plenty of paint scraping fun throughout the weekend. Riders finish their journey over one last double and roll right on out the big roll up doors and on to the next round.
The vibe in the stands and the surrounding areas was quite exciting. For many, this is their first big race of the year and they are eager to shake off the cobwebs and get back to cranking. When chatting with various riders, all of them seem stoked on the new and improved technical layout of the track and are ready to see how the different lines are taken that provide the fastest way around. Practice was booming and many were struggling to make a perfect pass, but in the end there were a few that will be on our radar this weekend.
Friday night racing kicked off with the A Pro showdown and two Elite Men, Jeff Upshaw and Josh Klatman, made an appearance to go the dough. After a gate choice lap and one lap no crap main event, Upshaw was the victor. In the madness was an impressive showing from Rookie Pro “The Darkness” Marquise Montgomery who was able to pull out a solid second place finish. Word on the street is Brandon Cato will also be joining the pro ranks today – both riders having solid chances of making waves in day one action.
The vibe is high and the racing is hot as we prepare to kick off day one of the 2015 USA BMX Great Northwest Nationals. Make sure to check in throughout the day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while using #GNWNats in all of your posts. And as always, check back tonight as we bring you the complete race report from day one here in Redmond!
Heading into Saturday and day 1 of the eighth annual USA BMX Great Northwest Nationals, there was a lot of talk mulling around 510 Bay Area BMX and Rift~Tangent rider Brandon Cato. Not only is Cato one of the most widely respected amateurs, he also dropped the am title today after signing his pro license – thus officially making him a rookie.
Throughout the day Cato was unstoppable, winning all three rounds as they prepared the class for the main event. Once the lineup was set, the next thing we remember hearing was “Move over Kenny G, Brandon Cato is here!” Well, not really, but it is evident that Kenny, if not already pressured enough by his competition, has once again been faced with a huge obstacle. Unfortunately for all of us, we will have to sit back and wait patiently until these two meet up for a throw-down. Cato would go on to take things wire-to-wire and not losing a single lap all day. He had many try to rain on his parade like teammate Pete Pascual and foe Kristian Cooper, but it was not happening. Cato went on to sweep the day in impressive fashion and clinched his first ever-pro career win. After crossing the line for the final time I can remember seeing his dad in the stands and shedding a tear or two of joy. Now can he do it again tomorrow? We will certainly find out, but for now he is still on cloud nine as they celebrate a monumental win.
The Factory Rift~Tangent crew had some mean grub cooked up in their pits – salsa so good that it might have provided anyone who ate it the extra boost of speed they need to win. In that case, Nate Romero had plenty of the salsa and mouth-watering chicken. Romero was running a whole new level of fast as he powered away with the win in stylish fashion. Those guys in California have something brewing with their Rift~Tangent crew. A team that is filled with a lot of top talent and capable of shaking up any team sheet battle class.
The girl classes took to the dirt and started battling for wins. Out of all the classes, the 11-12 year-olds put on one heck of a battle for first and second. Out of the gate and into the first turn it was Fastsigns~Redline rider Lexis Colby taking the lead and the holeshot. Hot on her tail was “Almost Famous” Leyna Jones and together, the two west coast girls were checking out. Jones had some serious determination in her eyes and was pedaling every square inch she could – even grabbing a couple that may not have been in the safest places. The final turn approached and Jones swooped underneath from the outside line like a true veteran. It was by far what I would have considered the pass of the day as it ended with her edging out Colby for the overall win. Day two will bring another battle between these ladies and that is one main you will not want to miss.
Back to the girls we go and one of the most competitive classes of the weekend lies with the 14 year old young ladies. Between Dan’s Comp’s Sumiko Yuki, Free Agent’s Brooke Grindle and Sueprcross’ Anna Johnson tremors were traveling through the dirt as they lined up on the gate. With how hard the girls have been racing, spectators were in for quite the show. Heading into the first turn after a powerful gate start was Anna Johnson holding the torch. Both Grindle and Yuki were searching for the inside, but couldn’t find it and fell into a single-file line. The rest of the way was a constant fight for the first place position, but in the end it was Johnson taking the win followed by Yuki and Grindle respectively.
For me, the most impressive rider of the day was J&R Bicycle’s rider Dahvin Childs. I am not sure how I have not noticed him before, but this kid can ride with the best of them. Not only the best, but with the current National #1 Amateur, Roman Jaworsky. In the 14 Expert main event, it was no surprise that many had Jaworsky pegged as the winner. However, Childs pulled right along side him down the first straight and cut into turn one harder than the rest to cut away the opening for the champ. After that it was all she wrote as Childs kept it smooth and calm the rest of the way to hold off Jaworsky for the overall win. That lone win was most likely the breaking point for Scott Angus to beat out Bay Area BMXers by ONE point for the Bike Shop team sheet. Will it happen again today? Find out by tuning in to usabmx.com/webcast.
With day one a wrap, we enter day two with a ton of excitement and energy. Be sure to listen live to all of the action and as always we will keep you updated throughout the day on all of the USA BMX social media outlets. Keep the rubber side down and we will see you at the races!
Walking out of the hotel on Sunday morning left us with a punch in the face of bone chilling temperatures. Reading the gauge in the car, it was a balmy 28 degrees, and coming from the Valley of the Sun in AZ, it was definitely no picnic in the park. Luckily the Bank of the Cascades center in Redmond has a lovely heated interior that warmed everyone up just in time for the first gates to drop.
After powering through 512 furious motos between the first two qualifying rounds, quarters and semis were set. As expected, everything went well and before we knew it the A Pro class was lined up in the gate and ready to do business. Brandon Cato was searching for another rookie debut win, while teammate Paul Pascual and NW local Kristian Cooper were looking to show their veteran knowledge and lead the way. Round 1 was a battle between Cato and Pascual and things got dicey as they entered the last turn. Pascual dropped the veteran card and Cato hit the dirt for the first time in the weekend. A little shaken, Cato got up and went back to win the next two rounds. Unfortunately the 8th place finish kept him shy of Pascual and had to settle for 2nd place. Rounding out the podium was Steven Smith. Apparently his lone sprint session two days before the national was just enough to get him primed for a podium finish!
Between the 36-40, 41-45 and 46-50 lady cruiser classes, each one had either seven riders or a full gate for the main event. That is an awesome showing from these ladies who are killing it out there on the track. Like we always say in BMX, nobody sits on the bench! Of those three classes, Canada's Shylo Orchard was probably the most impressive. The Canadian National Champion handled business no problem over the weekend and was able to walk away with some solid wins. There is no denying that this girl is the real deal and a threat to anyone she lines up on the gate with.
With the men cruiser classes, Washington's Dave Archibald has once again found himself repping the privateer gear after his departure from the Factory Kuwahara squad. This guy has tons of determination and always puts himself in winning contention on any day – something he would do again this weekend. Between both days, Archi had some stiff competition, but was able to preserver and handle any and all competitors. He would pick up the double and cruise his way back to Washington with hopes of being in the National title hunt once again as we keep chugging along toward the Grand Nationals.
Speaking of Washington, one gal that has been seriously destroying the 17-20 women's class is Lawman Bikes rider Kialani Hines. She has power, skill and leg speed to match anyone on the circuit right now. In fact, with her recent performances, I am comfortable saying that she has a huge future in front of her and the possibility of making it as one of the top women pro riders with some more training. After two more wins, Hines has granted herself some serious points to push towards a national title at the end of the year. Who knows, she may turn pro before that can happen. Either way, if you get on the gate with her, be ready to battle!
The expert classes are always some of the best racing of the weekend and this specific Sunday was even more so as all of the riders were going for some pretty risky moves hoping to make them stick and take the win and big points. Of those mains, the 28-35 Expert class was absolutely dynamite over the course of the day. Both Justin Wike for Extreme Team and Jonas Harmon for GT Bicycles were swapping back and forth. Going into turn one it was these two going at it, but Wike's inside move was not enough and he slid out hard – making that twice for the weekend. Harmon would go on to handle business just fine and grab the win. It was a great battle between the two and watching them race more this season is going to be nothing but a treat for those watching.
The 8th annual Great Northwest Nationals concluded and it was one heck of an event. For being the second largest at this venue, everyone who partook in the racing was overjoyed with how things went. One thing for sure is that we cannot wait to return to this wonderful facility next year. For now, keep the rubber side down and we will see you at the next one!