2017 Winter Nationals race report
This year, the #WinterNats again kicked off the Pro Series, and was the first outdoor national of the new season. This was Stop No.3, and was also the first (of four) Worlds Qualifiers, to see which eight riders from each age-class would be joining #TeamUSA in Rock Hill this summer.
First, let's get into the Pro classes; which officially kick off the chase for the No.1 Pro titles in USA BMX. Despite many social media posts predicting a Pro picket line, protest or low moto count - turnout was amazing and everything went fine and smooth. Elite Women saw 25 riders sign up; some of them brand new first-time Rookies - such as Haro's Kristen Long. In the Mens class, we had 40 AA's show up; which is HUGE! With plenty of foreign riders - from all over Europe to South America, they took this opportunity to hit Phoenix and plan to it up Oldsmar's big hill next week.
Speaking with some of the Dutch National team during practice, they'd been spending a week over in San Diego riding, and were happy to be where it's sunny and ridable, compared to the foul weather they had back home. Twan and Jelle both mentioned that they were just starting to get back on a training program, and that their expectations weren't huge. This, for them, was just a warm-up to where they'd be in a few months. ...yeah; right.
The Pro racing was ran on the hour, every hour - and they were putting quite a show. We'd have to say that the one person who was looking most impressive - as if he hadn't stopped training one bit since December 1st, was Supercross~Troy Lee's ANTHONY DEAN. Dressed like Johnny Cash - in all black, he was lightin' a ring a fire around all the other pros. Unbeatable, it seemed ... at least, until the main event.
Dean nabbed the Answer Holeshot Award (cha-ching!) and led the International-filled main event out of the first turn on the super fast Black Mountain track. Of the eight men in the main, we had seven differnt countries represented. Only the U.S., with our Olympians Fields and Long, had two in the final. Unfortunately, they got stuck in the back of the pack - along with your reigning World Champion and 2-time National No.1 Pro Joris Daudet (who by turn two was in 5th place).
Meanwhile, Dean was in the lead by turn two but had VanGendt and Jones breathing down his neck. Twan was strong down the third straight and decided to go for the inside move into the third corner; a popular place to attempt any passes. Dive to the inside, carve up into the lead rider, steal his line and take things over. It was a textbook pass from the book BMX 101, and Dean lost all of his momentum for the upcoming rhythm. From first to fourth, in a flash. More incredibly, Joris Daudet flew from fifth to third like it was nuthin'. Trent Jones was loving it in the 2-spot, as this was his first time ever at Black Mountain, and in his post-race interview Dutch rider VanGendt told us that he was "gassed" to get the win.
- 1 TWAN VAN GENDT, THE NETHERLANDS
- 2 TRENT JONES, BOX~THRILL - NEW ZEALAND
- 3 JORIS DAUDET, CHASE - FRANCE
- 4 ANTHONY DEAN, SUPERCROSS~TLD - AUSTRALIA
- 5 SIMON MARQUART, SWITZERLAND
- 6 NIC LONG, HARO/PROMAX - USA
- 7 GONZALO MOLINA, ARGENTINA
- 8 CONNOR FIELDS, CHASE - USA
The gals also put on quite a show, and after the Foreign-filled field had been narrowed down to the final eight riders, we had quite the impressive line-up. Five of the eight were Americans, with Australia (Reynolds), New Zealand (Fleming) and Argentina (Diaz) in the mix.
Judging by the crowd response, everybody was stoked to see Alise Post in attendance and were rooting for our Olympic silver medalist. As you'd expect, the reigning National No.1 Woman Pro was the one to beat, and holeshotted the final. Skyin' everything down the second straight, she was looking strong, but the crafty-one Brooke Crain was in code-3 pursuit and wasn't about to allow Alise to pull away from the pack. Knowing that Brooke was in tow, Alise went for a more inside line into the third turn but couldn't make her tires stick. WHAM! All down, all by herself. Crain, going on the outside, took things over, while Black Mountain local Rachel Mydock (Supercross) swooped in for the second.
- 1 BROOKE CRAIN, HARO - VISALIA, CA
- 2 RACHEL MYDOCK, SUPERCROSS - GLENDALE, AZ
- 3 LAUREN REYNOLDS, ANSWER/RENNEN - AUSTRALIA
- 4 ZOE FLEMING, NEW ZEALAND
- 5 MARIANA DIAZ, ARGENTINA
- 6 DANI GEORGE, DHR - PALMDALE, CA
- 7 SABRINA BICE, POWERLITE~DFR, LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ
- 8 ALISE POST, TROY LEE/KLEAN, CHULA VISTA, CA
With her Friday win, Brooke kicks off the year in the points lead. Could this be the year that she finally wins a No.1 Pro plate? It's a long season - but for now, it looks like she could!
In Pro Open, Free Agent's rookie pro, Alec Bob, scored his first Pro career win. The full-time college student from Marian University (carrying 16 credits inbetween training) was thrilled to get that first win under his belt.
With the UCI World Championships coming back to America in 2017 - after a 16 year absence, the first step to going is qualifying for Team USA. Each age/division will have 32 slots open, and USA BMX has put together a 4-race Qualifier series to determine who makes the cut. This weekend in Phoenix was the first one, and the Friday night qualifying was tough all the way down to the mains. Once in the main, you'd made the Team; but there's still ego, reputation and a trophy on the line and the competition had something to prove. If you want to earn a "W" on your numberplate this summer, this was not the time to slack off!
Besides ...there were these cool medals to be won!
Thus, the first round of four Worlds Qualifiers is in the books and already, it looks like we've got plenty of potential future World Champs on the U.S. squad. #GOUSA!
Remember that ol' song we sang as kids: "Rain, rain, go away - come again another day" ? Well, that's what we were thinking as we arrived Saturday morning at Black Mountain. With National Director Bill Morris keeping a careful eye on the Doplar Radar, it's a roll of the dice when there'd be a big enough break to get a race in.
With the track all tucked in for the night, snug like a bug in a rug, the USA BMX staff kept 'er covered until the radar was looking clear. Racing began just a tad after noon, and Balance Bike classes were canceled (due to the chance that the little boogers would sink waist-deep in the muddy infield). And other than a few tough spots that would soon rut-up, overall the track was dry and fast. Dusty-dry, in fact! That is, until the rain came back on toward the end of second round of motos. Black Mountain the much-needed watering that was due, and then some.
But the racing never stopped; in the immortal words of P.T. Barnum: "The show must go on!"
Pro racing was exciting as usual, and only a few big names pulled out for the Day 2 action. After her crash in the Friday night main, Alise Post wasn't feeling it and drove home. And Maris Strombergs, who never ever takes any risks, opted to watch from the sidelines as the rest of the men and women Elite's fought it out for a spot in the final.
In the Mens finale', we only saw one American left to defend the honor of ol' Glory - the ConMan. Nederlands held three spots in the gate (Van den Burg, Torres and Jelle Van Gorkom), and Australia filled two lanes (Dean and Bodi Turner). France was repped by Joris Daudet and surprise, surprise ... CANADA, in the final thanks to a sweet semi ride by James Palmer.
From the snap, Fields looked strong from the outside lane 8, but Dean - who'd been crushing it all day, laid down his power and grabbed the lead after the second jump; a challenging camelback. From there, as long he stayed upright, Dean would cash in on another Answer Holeshot check and score the big win. joris and Dave Van den Burg rounded out the podium.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE.