2017 Carolina Nationals Race Report
THURSDAY: ROCK HILL SCHOOL KIDS, MEET BMX
The yellow buses just kept on coming; one after another - from nearly ever single school in the City of Rock Hill. 32 busloads, with over 1,200 students, paid a visit to Novant Health BMX track - to meet Olympic athletes, hear inspiring speeches about BMX racing, and get a first-hand introduction to this awesome sport we all love. BMX Director Mike King - a 2-time No.1 Amateur and former No.1 Pro and MTB National Champion, kicked things off with acquainting the Rock Hill kids to what BMX racing is all about. Our reigning No.1 Woman Pro - Alise Post, was also there to talk with the students and pump up the sport.
This is just one of many things that set the City of Rock Hill apart from all others. They love BMX, they KNOW what BMX is all about, and they are doing everything they can to promote this sport in their town!
Later that same night, there were over 500 riders showing up for the pre-Carolina's 5-buck practice session. The City was ready for it, with a staff of twelve City workers there to ensure that practice went off without a hitch and that everybody got plenty of gate-time.
FRIDAY: USA CYCLING RACE-FOR-THE-SLEEVE & TEAM USA WORLDS QUALIFIER
The precursor to the 2017 UCI World Championships was destined to be a big one from the get-go. Anyone who is serious about becoming a World Champ would want to be here in Rock Hill, SC - at the plush Novant Health BMX facility. Its central location made it easy for racers from all over the Eastern shoreboard came in droves. The sign-up line was soooooo long, all day Friday that it even delayed the closing of registration. (C'mon, people - that's why we have online pre-signs at usabmx.com !) A big turnout, though, is a great sign of the times and meant that we were in for some of the greatest racing we've seen this year!
For the American racers, Friday was all about one thing - and one thing only: making it on to Team USA! In order to race The Worlds, you had to make you main at Friday's qualifier. This was the second Worlds Qualifier - and perhaps, the most important one of all, since it was being held on The Worlds track itself. You can rest assured that the eight riders who made the cut here, are going to be key-players this July when the entire BMX World arrives at Rock Hill, SC.
When all was said and done - late Friday night (well, technically - it was very, very early Saturday morning), half of each age-division for Team USA had now been filled. Eight more were added and it already looks like we are set to dominate this year's UCI Worlds! Look out!
For the Elite men and women, Friday night was all about the stars 'n bars sleeve. The winner of the USA Cycling National Championships is the one who gets to have their jersey adorned with the flag sleeve - which must be run, or they risk being fined by the UCI.
When the final race crossed the line, Connor Fields and Corben Sharrah would have to put in a new order of jerseys - Fields' would be without a flag and Corben's new FastHouse / Daylight Cycles jersey will now require the red, white 'n blue sleeve of a 2017 USAC Champ.
Alise Post was all set, and after winning her eighth straight USAC Elite title, she'll continue with her current Troy Lee jerseys and patriotic sleeves. Additionally, Bryce Batten won the Jr.Elite class in one of the most exciting races of the night - having to get by holeshot artist Kamren Larson, to score the victory, while GT's Sophia Foresta was handed the Jr.Women title.
Team USA is looking strong for the Jr. Elite class - with both Batten and Larsen getting the automatic selection with their wins. We'd love to see an American racer win the rainbow-stripes jersey this July!
Early on, it became obvious that the Colombian racers were serious about retaining that big "W" on their low-digit pie plate. If you recall, Medellin, Colombia had hosted the Worlds last year and it seemed as if there are a hundred or so mini-Mariana's - fast younger girls who have no doubt been inspired by their Country's Olympic hero, and her two Gold medals. We like to call them "Mariana's Minions." They are fast and they win A LOT.
As the Americans were racing to make it into their main events and become a part of Team USA, the South Americans were out in force and taking in all of the racing they could get in. Staying up past midnight was no big deal to them - they were just pumped to be racing in America on such an incredible track. Throughout the weekend, the Colombian girls - aka "Mini-Mariana's," with their W# plates were spotted out front and won their fair share of mains. Friday night alone, they won four straight - from 9 Girls to 12 year olds, and would end up winning 9 of the 13 girls' mains.
- 1st NICOLE FORONDA, MEDELLIN
- 1st MARIA GOEZ RESTREPO, MEDELLIN
- 1st MANUELA MUNOZ, MEDELLIN
- 1st VALERIA RIOS, MEDELLIN
- 1st VALENTINA MUNOZ VANEGAS, MEDELLIN
- 1st ROMINA MIRANDO, GUAYAQUIL
- 1st SUSANA ARISTIZABAL, MEDELLIN
Many of Mariana's Minions would go on to battle for the win on Saturday and Sunday as well, with a few succeeding.
The one thing that everybody had to battle with on Friday - no matter what your age or what country you were from, was the wind. Even the Carolina Nationals starting hill banner lost in that fight, as there were some mighty winds blasting Rock Hill until night-fall. Thus, it was decided that the Elite's would hit the Amateur/Girls side of the decision maker, to keep things safe. Nobody was wanting to hit the berm-jump with these gusts.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY: CAROLINA NATIONALS
When motos were posted, word quickly spread throughout social media that we had 367 motos in all. That doesn't make it THEE biggest, but it was the largest race ever in South Carolina, and was the biggest of the year so far. Record-making, for sure!
In all, there were racers from 21 countries in Rock Hill. We had riders from Japan to The Netherlands, Bolivia to Latvia, Chile to Canada. It was just like the Johnny Cash song that Bill Morris plays at the end of every race - "They came from everywhere, man. Came from everywhere."
The final tally of the weekend was racers from 21 countries and 43 states, with Florida bringing in the most competitors. With nearly 2,500 entries from over 1,600 unique participants and an estimated 5,300 spectators throughout the three days of non-stop action, we suppose you can hashtag those numbers as #RealData.