Fields and Post Plus-Up Friday Night Format

February 21, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Connor Fields wins Day 1 in Phoenix

The new Friday-Saturday format for pro racing debuted at the Winter Nationals. It was interesting, exciting and a bit frustrating, all at once. With 53 Elite Men and 21 Elite Women on the hill, there’s no question that it brought an element of “show” to the normally-ho-hum Friday night pre-race.

This was an especially-large pre-race—about as large as last week’s national in Florida, at 150ish motos. As a result, it went til 10:15PM. Add in getting some food, maybe a shower to wash the Black Mountain off of you, and it was Midnight before lights out. That’s a tough Friday night, considering Saturday is likely to go late, too.

By the time Connor Fields hit the finish line on his winning pro main lap, most of the parking lot had emptied out– but about 25% of the crowd stayed behind to see every last lap, the munchkins and the mighty, alike, do their thing.

Of course there was some incredible race action between the first pro gate of the night and the last.

Elite Women had a few new faces, with Shay Glynn, Carlie Ferree, Kelsey Van Ogle, and Rachel Mydock. But there is no question that the Old Guard is still well in charge of the class, with Alise Post and Brooke Crain getting tons of lead rider calls from the tower.

Rachel Mydock at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals
First-time Elite Mydock (above) did win the very-first Elite lap of the 2015 season, however, which is one of those “moments-in-history” things. Ferree was toward the front in more than a few laps as well, so we are looking for her to make some big moves as she gets settled in.

In the single-lap UCI main event, it was Alise, Brooke and Belgian Elke Van Hoof to stand on the new-for-2015 USA BMX podium.

Elite Men had some heartbreak mixed in with the action. Some good lead changes down the fourth straight of the long Black Mountain track. Justin Posey had 1-1-1 going in to the quarterfinals, but missed getting to the gate on time, later telling News:

“I never heard them announce ‘Pros to Staging.’ I only heard the first quarter being announced, from the pits. Tough lesson, for sure.”

Sam Willoughby was atomic all evening long, and it looked like he could very-well get the first win of 2015 on Friday night. Of course, Connor Fields was also having a great evening.

When the two met in the semis. It was the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Both came out of the middle, with Connor in gate 4 and Sam in 5. They were closer than peas & carrots when they went into turn one at Warp 9. Hard to say what happened next, even with the benefit of G-Mo’s awesome video sequence of the situation (below). Both stars, super-close. Looked to us as though Sam just landed funny off the jump leading into turn one–while others said it was a lean-in battle. Whatever it was, it took Sam down to the dirt, and left Connor an open track ahead to do his business.

The wreck took down three of the eight riders, and Sam had an injury to his hand–no word on how bad, but he is racing on Saturday, so .

After all-but-the-expert mains of the pre-race, the two Elite mains ran, with the aforementioned finish of Post, Crain and Van Hoof on the podium for the women, and for the men, Connor had an awesome lap, but was pressed by Nic Long and Corben Sharrah. This was the first time in quite a while we had an all-American Elite Men’s podium.

Alise Post Wins on Day 1 of 2015 Winter Nationals

BMX News 2015 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

A Little Ditty on the New Format
As we were driving back to the hotel, we had a few minutes to pause and reflect on the new Friday night pro format. There were some bright spots to it–some “pros,” if you will, on the pros/cons list. But there were some aspects that were not as good as the traditional Sat/Sun format.

Time will tell if the gravitational-pull of the pros can lift the Friday night pre-race up to the next strata, and make it something families will want to stick around til 9 or 10 at night to see. Or if the Friday night pre-race pulls the pros down to it’s level of being a lower-wattage opener to the more important racing on Saturday and Sunday. Will the magnetic-poles of BMX stardom flip, making less-expensive-to-sponsor A-Pros more attractive, since they can race at every national, AND might be inclined to race all three days at Elite races; versus the much more limited exposure of the Elites?

The Elites need elevation. They need BETTER exposure to the families who buy the bikes and parts that allow the industry to fund pros. Seeing them race in the shadows, then disappear into the deep-darkness of the pits til next round may not be the way to accomplish that.

From an audience perspective, not everyone is in town yet on Friday night–hence the reason for Saturday sign-ups and practice. It was strange seeing the Elite mains running at 10 at night, with 75% of the people who were there for the first gate already gone.

With the pros now out of the picture (and presumably on their way home) on Sunday, arguably half that facetime opportunity to meet fans is gone. Will this prove to be an unfortunate culture shift for the sport, or a new age of making “Elite” more elite, through scarcity?

—Mike Carruth

BMX News will have more from Black Mountain BMX as Day One of the 2015 USA BMX Winternationals gets under way. meanwhile, take a gander at our photo gallery from the Friday night pro race.


Photo Gallery 2015 Winter Nationals Elite Day 1


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