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Recap: 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

February 23, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Recap: 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

The USA BMX Winter Nationals are always one of the biggest races of the year. Two years ago, we were here for the pro opener, and it was packed to the rafters. Last year: no pro race, but still a hefty am crowd on the boards.

This year, owing to a standing-ovation track rebuild, two UCI Elite races (using the new Friday/Saturday format), and a break in the action in out-West national racing for a month and a half, the swarm was on at Black Mountain BMX. It was plenty-big but, mercifully, not the 400+ moto behemouth some were forcasting. Saturday’s race tipped the scales at 328 motos, and Sunday’s at 289–manageable, to be sure. But we were still out of the parking lot at 5PM on Sunday, and grateful it wasn’t 7PM.

If you read our recap of Friday night, you got a little taste of our pre-Saturday say on the new pro format, so we’ll save you those syllables. Truth be told, the new format is not very popular among anyone except the pros, who would rather gargle Draino than get up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to pack, eat and be at the track for the 7:45 warm-up. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

When you score all the aspects of the weekend: Track, vibe, race action, weather, and the “intangibles” that make a good race great, this one had it handled. The “stars” of the 2015 season are starting to emerge, after four races in the books–and it’s refreshing to see more than just the usual suspects up top. Usual suspects are great; they work super-hard to stay there, but it adds something special to see some battles too.

The photos tell the story well, so here is the photo re-cap:

Top photo: Overview of the first straight (complete with A-Pro action), great weather, obligatory cactus background, and plentiful cheering fans. This shot is about 900 of the proverbial 1000 words that sums up the 2015 Winter Nationals.

Summer Welsh sings at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

13-Year old Summer Welsh belted out a spirited rendition of the National Anthem on Friday evening to open Winter Nationals weekend.

Jena Sagendorf won Felicia Stancil's Bike

Felicia Stancil ran a “win my bike” contest on Social Media, whereby she would give her fully-tricked-out 2014 GT Carbon. Jena Sagendorf was the lucky winner, as repost #1000 out of more than 1300 entries.

Alise Post and Brooke Crain at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

We have a feeling Alise and Brooke are going to be just as close on the track as they are off the track this season. The Best-buddies were bottom-bracket-to-bottom-bracket a bunch of times in Phoenix. Alise finished the weekend with two wins on the fresh 2015 leaderboard. Brooke was second both days, and it was Elke Van Hoof and Carlie Ferree who occupied the three-step on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Peter Choat at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

It’s Pistol Pete Choat, terror of the ten-year olds. Pete just signed on to the coming-on-strong Full-Tilt Bike Co. team (which now also counts Florida fast-guy Raul Gomez and Cannonball Jack Kelly on the roster). Winter Nats score for Peter: a 3 and a 2 in class, and an 8 and a Win in Cruiser on Sat, Sunday. Justin York got the 10x win both days. The moto sheets list “none” as sponsor. Our guess is: it will not stay that way for long.

Maynard Peel at the 2015 USA BMX Winter nationals

Maynard Peel was back Stateside after some time back home in his native New Zealand. Coming to Phoenix was just like home: Summer in February. He got the 15x win both days, and second both days in 15-16 open (to Kevin Pauls, then Bubba Gonzales). This shot was characteristic of the leads he was stretching out all weekend.

Greg Hill at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

While Greg Hill is no longer dashing for cash in the pro class, as he was 30 years ago, but the on-the-bike intensity he made famous is still at full amperage. Here’s GH blazing out of turn one Saturday. What none of us knew, but he probably did, is that he’d be first at the stripe in Saturday night’s 46-over expert main event.

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

Carlie Ferree at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

Carlie Ferree goofin in the Haro/Promax pit between pro rounds on Saturday. She didn’t skip a beat in making the transition from top-hand am to putting her feet on a pro podium the first weekend out. Third on Saturday.

Connor Fields at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

After Sam’s dramatic exit from the mix in Friday’s semi, the main was Connor’s to win or lose. He won it, with Nic Long in Second and Corben Sharrah in third. Saturday was looking goood for CF11 as well, until some first-straight turbulence in the main took him off-the-pace and onto a seventh place finish.

Anthony Dean at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

This started out as a good shot, but it went out of focus in the split second it took to push the button, and ended up in the “delete” pile. Woefully-out-of focus or not, this one frame tells the story of the Saturday Elite Men main event better than anything we had. Just above, we mentioned the turbulance on the first straight of the Saturday main. Sam, Joris and Connor all bumped (in some order), giving Anthony Dean all the daylight he needed to hit the Answer Holeshot pole first. He led it to the last turn, when Sam laid-down some kind of super-move that some said had his tires OVER Anthony’s as the two entered the turn (we didn’t see it, but it sounded cool). Sam took the win, and Jared the Jet Garcia (85) slipped by near the stripe for the second. Anthony took home the Answer Holeshot cash.

Leo Hile at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

Leo Hile and Patrick Coo split the 12x gold in Phoenix, with Leo taking 11-12 open both days as well.

Jesse Welch at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

Jesse Welch is back from his broken arm at the Grands, and looking fast as ever. Second to Bryant White in class and open on Saturday; a win in Open and third in class on Sunday (to White and Hunter Brown). Cool coincidence he ended up National 64, so two Haro stars be running the six-four.

Hunter Pelham at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

The 30-rider-thick A-Pro class on Sunday was a battle royale every trip. The whole weekend, really, with an awesome Main event Saturday night. On Day 2, Hunter Pelham put together three solid laps to top his first pro podium since turning-up in Vegas. Jordan Miranda was second overall and Tyler Whitfield was third. On Saturday night, it was Matt Furlan, Vic Behm and Collin Hudson topping the 36-rider class.

Scott Moreland at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

After a 45-minute break while EMTs cared for a rider who went down on the third straight in the 36-40 main, DiPrete and Scotty Moreland were ready to do the do. Shawn led to this exact point, when Scott swooped under and took over the lead to the stripe. Scott Felt was third. On Saturday, it was Jason Carnes with the win, Moreland with second and Jim Nelson with third. (Update: The “downed rider” mentioned above, Brandon Benton, is reported by friends to be “fine” after the crash).

Mika Synegal at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

Mika Synegal was riding at, or just-over his head in Sunday’s main event. With beast-mode fully-engaged, dude almost laid it down a few times in trying to catch Sergio Cabanillas on the second and third straights. Incredible intensity, and a treat to see this kind of “fight” in a five-year old. He made the pass and took home a Saturday-Sunday double in 5-under expert. Keep Mika’s name on your radar!

Cameron Moore at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

Cameron Moore gets our “Double Double” award for the Winter Nationals, taking home the gold in 17-18x and 17-20 open both days. Take a gander at the results, and all the guys he had to beat to make that happen, and you will be just as impressed as we were. As the “Double Double” award winner, Cam gets a $20 gift card to In-N-Out Burger to chow-down on his next trip Westward. Jacob Abbe (3) and Josh Banuelos (middle) took the second and third on Sunday (as Justin Knapper and Ryan Zinzow are on an “over the berm” trajectory).

Shawn DiPrete at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals

The mains had a fair share of crashes, and that carried-through to the very-end. As 41-45 expert (second to last main of the weekend) was racing down the fourth straight, race offcials shut them down due to a downed rider entering the turn (you can see the officials on the track getting ready to route them or shut them down). DiPrete was leading, with Al Roybal in second when the shut-down call was made. On the re-run, the eight did a pump lap which just-happened to finish the way it was positioned to finish in the first place.

It was a great, albeit very long trip to Phoenix. We always enjoy coming to this one, both for the packed-class action on the track, seeing West Coast friends, and (some years) the pro opener. This year’s trip definitely did not disappoint.

A BIG BMX News thank you to Debbie Kelley, Chris Knapp, Traci Batten, Don Fisher and the rest of the Black Mountain crew, and to the USA BMX National crew for always doing what they do with a smile, and making it feel like home, whatever zip code we’re in.

Our next scheduled race is the 2015 USA BMX Carolina Nationals, and series-debut of the North American Supercross Series in Rock Hill, SC. That is March 20-22, and also includes the USA Cycling Elite National Championships (Friday), and the UCI North American Continental Championships (Sunday). We may hit the Cajun Nationals, if we get the jones for a 30-hour round-trip car trip (last year, we were in the car longer than we were in town).

Take a look at all-three of the full Photo Galleries from the Winter Nationals:

Photo Galleries

2015 Winter Nationals Photo Gallery – Friday Elites

2015 Winter Nationals Photo Gallery – Saturday Elites/Ams

2015 Winter Nationals Photo Gallery – Sunday

2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals – Results





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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.

Links

Photo Gallery 2015 Winter Nationals Elite Day 1


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Photo Gallery: 2014 USA BMX Winter Nationals

March 20, 2014 by · Comments Off 

2014 USA BMX Winter Nationals Photo Gallery

The Winter Nationals are always one of the best races of the year. It is generally the race where we start to see who is going to be the fighting force of the season, team wise. Plus, as the first outdoor race of the season, we get a first glimpse of who might be the stand-out riders of the year.

This year, BMX News contributor Tanner Yeager had the awesome responsibility of bringing back a photo gallery that represented the depth of the talent pool, in all classes. We think he did a great job on that front and know you’ll dig it too.

Above: Ryan Pettigrew took the win in Jr. Devo on Saturday, and in 15x on Sunday. Bubba Gonzales was first at the stripe in 15x on Saturday. Phoenix/Box has THREE guys in 15x, so we could not positively ID their guy in this photo, but we thinks it be Brian Ensey.

2014 BMX News race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp

Links

2014 USA BMX Winter Nationals Photo Gallery

2014 USA BMX Winter Nationals Results

Our next race will be the USA BMX Gator Nationals in Oldsmar, Florids this weekend. Pro series racing, and temps in the low-80s will make this a great one, so watch BMX News for Story, Photos and quick hits throughout the weekend. ALso, follow @bmxnews on twitter for as-they-happen updates from the infield and pits.





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