2017 USA BMX Stars and Stripes National Race Report
Leading up to this past weekend's race, things have been quite busy at South Park BMX. The first turned was pushed back 35 feet, the last turn was rebuilt, a nice balance bike track was added and they crafted a nice bridge to connect the spectator areas behind turn two. Nice additions to an already legendary facility.
Now on to the not so good. Mother nature started her reign (pun intended) on Thursday was a serious downpour. This led to a 30 minute delay to the start of Practice on Friday morning. The wet stuff fell again during the shortened practice session and the race finally kicked off about an hour behind schedule. Bad mother nature.
This was the last weekend of racing for nearly every Elite on the planet before the upcoming World Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina. A few notible names were missing including defending Pro Champions Alise Post, who was busy posting up a fitness modelesque shot from Minnesota on instagram Friday, and Joris Daudet, who was off winning the French National Championships across the pond.
While others were off doing other things, the defending Olympic gold medalist Connor Fields dominated every lap on Friday, that is except the main event. The Elite's made their case to the UCI official that they had not raced since the end of 2nd round on a completely dry track. They didn't want to risk riding on a now rain soaked tracked that they never had a chance to test the limits of. They got their wish in the end and ran as the first two laps on Saturday morning.
Gate popped on the Elite Women's main event and Supercross' Rachel Mydock quickly worked her way to the front of the pack. After earning herself the Answer Holeshot award, she swung a bit wide on the entry to turn two and was passed by the eventual winner Dani George. George had a rough go at it on Friday after crashing in her first moto but was all smiles as she crossed the finishline first.
At the podium Dani alerted us that she was actually feeling a bit under the weather and had pulled out for day 2. Bummer for the danimal, but good news for the rest of the class that now had to contend with one less racer. Come main time it was up in the air as to who would be leaving with the cool glass I-beam trophy that the local sports commission Visit Pittsburgh had provided for all of the Elite winners.
As the ladies hit the first jump it was a battle between Alpha's Keely Kortman and GT's Sophia Foresta. The 2 time National #1 Girl wasn't going to be denied and entered turn one in the lead for the first time in her short pro career. New Zealand's Zoe Fleming also had one of her most impressive laps of life and planted herself in the second spot. Kortman would hang on for a third.
The Elite Men fired off and Chase's Connor Fields handled the pressure and captured his fifth win on the season. This evens his win total with defending champ Joris Daudet and sets the stage for an epic finish to the Pro Series. Hot on his tail was day two winner Corben Sharrah who is building momentum as the season transpires.
A-Pro was chock full of talent this weekend with the likes of Cole Tesar, Victor Behm, and rookie Cam Moore all contending for the win. On Saturday all would be chasing after the 16 year old Aussie Izaac Kennedy who only lost one lap on the day. Remember this name as you will definitely be hearding it in the future if he keeps riding at this pace. Sunday's main saw Speedpeddlers' secret weapon Olijuwon Davis repeat his Friday night performance and take home a victory.
The action in the amatuer ranks was groundbreaking as we same some new faces at the front in many classes. Ron Markarian is a 46 & Over X that hails from Ohio that got a taste of the clean air that can only be found while leading a national main event. His luck would run out not once but twice in the class as small mistakes cost him both victories. Not bad considering that he was dominating the Intermediate ranks this time last year. We fully expect to see him become a consistent main maker from here on out.
In the 16 X class National #1 Am Jesse Welch was right where he wanted to be on day 1, in front of the main event. He was there again on Saturday, until the last turn. Free Agent's Jack Plummer used the inside of the downhill turn to his advantage but couldn't get away cleanly. Plummer went down in flames and Welch ended up getting parked on the strider track. Plummer would come back the next day and get the win while Welch would end up crashing again in the semi in the same turn.