2017 Mile High Nationals race report
Located at the Mesa County Fairgrounds in Grand Junction, CO., Grand Valley BMX has been Colorado's top track for so many years now that we've lost count. (But if you ask track operator Nick Adams, I am sure that he can give you the exact number).
A few years back, our good friends at GVBMX installed a trussed Olympic-sized starting hill and it has hosted a North American Supercross race ever since. Again, this year's race would be a Pro Series event - and with it being held only one week after the Worlds, there were quite a few foreign competitors in attendance before they caught that next flight out on Sunday to their homeland of choice. A few guys in orange from the Dutch Army came out, a fast and furious Japanese continegent, the entire British Cycling team and plenty of Aussies all came to Colorado to experience the Mile High's. With only three more Pro races left in the season - and a super tight chase for hte Cup, this weekend would play an important part for the 2017 No.1 Pro plate.
Compared to the heat and humidity of the previous week, Colorado was a pleasant swicth, with clouds on and off and temps in the 80's. Each night it rained; which was Mother Nature's way of a much-needed watering on the recently re-constructed course. Due to weather conditions since the re-build, they'd been unable to soil-tac the track, which gave this weekend's racing a touch of the 90's.
WELCOME TO THE PRO SHOW
Coming into this weekend, our Olympic gold medalist - Connor Fields, had been a good streak with a ton of wins and a second. But he'd gotten those finishes while his Chase teammate Joris Daudet was away in France, preparing for the Worlds and competing in the French National Championships. This weekend, it'd be another battle of the Chase twins - and both of them have their eye on the No.1 Pro Cup.
In Women's Elite, it was awesome to see Alise Post make her World No.1 debut in the Worlds rainbow striped jersey, and every one of her laps (except one) seemed more like a victory celebration. With only eight women in attendance it was a total-points chase for the overall win. In the third main, Australia's Saya Sakakibara nabbed the lead - and stole $250 out of Alise's back pocket by winning the Answer Holeshot award. It was her first "big check" in America, and she came to the USA BMX trailer confused on how to cash it in.
WOMEN ELITE - FRIDAY
- 1 ALISE POST, PROMAX/GW, CHULA VISTA, CA
- 2 SAYA SAKAKIBARA, HELENSBURGH, NSW
- 3 LAUREN REYNOLDS, ANSWER/RENNEN, CHULA VISTA, CA
- 4 SOPHIA FORESTA, GT, SOUTH JORDAN, UT
- 5 ZOE FLEMING, HARO/PROMAX, AUCKLAND
- 6 DANI GEORGE, GT/100 %, PALMDALE, CA
- 7 MIKA SHAW, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, CASTLE ROCK, CO
- 8 ALAINA HENDERSON, HARO/PROMAX, RUBY, NY
MEN ELITE - FRIDAY 21 riders
- 1 CONNOR FIELDS, HENDERSON, NV
- 2 SYLVAIN ANDRE, LYON
- 3 YOSHITAKU NAGASAKO, UNIQLO, NAGOYA
- 4 DAVE VAN DER BURG, ROTTERDAM
- 5 NIC LONG, HARO/PROMAX, LAKESIDE, CA
- 6 CORBEN SHARRAH, TUCSON, AZ
- 7 KAI SAKAKIBARA, HELENSBURGH, ACT
- 8 JORIS DAUDET, CORONA, CA
On day one, Fields snapped hard as if there were an Olympic medal on the line, and was able to hold off the hard-charging International comp. France's Sylvain Andre - who is having the best season of his life, was applying pressure like a chiropractor and attempted a swoop in turn two but couldn't make anything stick and settled into second place, to hold off Japan's current rising son, Yoshi Nagasako.
On the podium, it was a full-on International affair, with Japan, France and USA on the top. (Just the way we like to see it.)
WOMEN ELITE - SATURDAY
- 1 ALISE POST, PROMAX/GW, CHULA VISTA, CA
- 2 LAUREN REYNOLDS, ANSWER/RENNEN, CHULA VISTA, CA
- 3 DANI GEORGE, GT/100 %, PALMDALE, CA
- 4 ZOE FLEMING, HARO/PROMAX, AUCKLAND
- 5 SOPHIA FORESTA, GT, SOUTH JORDAN, UT
- 6 SAYA SAKAKIBARA, HELENSBURGH, NSW
- 7 ALAINA HENDERSON, HARO/PROMAX, RUBY, NY
- 8 MIKA SHAW, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, CASTLE ROCK, CO
MEN ELITE - SATURDAY
- 1 JORIS DAUDET, CORONA, CA
- 2 CONNOR FIELDS, HENDERSON, NV
- 3 SYLVAIN ANDRE, LYON
- 4 DAVE VAN DER BURG, ROTTERDAM
- 5 YOSHITAKU NAGASAKO, UNIQLO, NAGOYA
- 6 KENNETH GUSTAFSON, DOUBLECROSS, PARKER, CO
- 7 CORBEN SHARRAH, TUCSON, AZ
- 8 NIC LONG, HARO/PROMAX, LAKESIDE, CA
Throughout the weekend, the gigantic triple-jump at Grand Valley was giving the Pros fits. While the exact measurement is a mystery, rumors in the pit area was that it was anywhere between 36 to 38 feet lip-to-lip. The Women's field had narrowed down to six by the final round, and half of them cruised over the monster triple in their last race; leaving the air-time to the experienced Pro pilots like Alise, Lauren Reynolds and Dani George.
if there were a "Get back on the Horse" award of the weekend, it'd have to go to Mike Shaw, who struggled from practice to motos, but kept getting back up and trying it again and again.
On Saturday, if Connor Fields were to win again and keep Joris the Win-a-Saurus off the box, he could likely had taken over the Pro points lead. But instead, the reigning No.1 Pro was out to redeem his reputation and points-lead, as he continues with his goal to tie Bubba Harris' record of 3-in-a-row. In the forty years of ABA (USA BMX), only one rider has ever won the Pro title three consecutive years. Joris, the two-timer, is out to add his name to the record books this year - and won it from start to finish.
Next up for the Pros will be the Derby City Nationals - in Louisville; on another big hill. Can Con-man catch his Chase teammate? Or will the flyin' Frenchie further his quest for a third No.1 Pro Championships?
One of the coolest things to see this weekend was the premiere of big W's on some rider's plates. ...especially the W#1's on a few. Starting off with the six-year-old experts, Nebraska's new World No.1 of Joseph Mather was proudly sporting his Team USA uniform all weekend and was constantly seen out front.
- 1 JOSEPH MATHER, FACTORY RACER CONCEPTS, OMAHA, NE
- 2 NATHAN WALKER, BMX SHARKS, VICTORVILLE, CA
- 3 JORGE (DEVILDOG) MONTANO III, NATIONAL GHP, ROSAMOND, CA
- 4 CALEB DURKIN, NW-FORCE-DOUBLECROSS, VAUGHN, WA
- 5 JORDAN WALKER, BMX SHARKS, VICTORVILLE, CA
- 6 DIESEL MUMMA, NORCAL BMX/FLY/TANGENT, ROSEVILLE, CA
While in 8X, Colorado's newly crowned World Champion - Carter Cochran would be our predicted winner, but things don't always go as planned. Carter had some troubles and J&R's Cory LeBaron was right there to take full advantage of it, followed by Alpha's Nathan Monster and FullTilt'er Gavyn Fox.
- 1 CORY LEBARON, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV
- 2 NATHAN MINSTER, FACTORY ALPHA, DUARTE, CA
- 3 GAVYN FOX, FULL TILT BIKE CO, HERRIMAN, UT
- 4 AUSTIN WILLIAMS, VELOCITY BIKE CO, EASTVALE, CA
- 5 CHRIS FELKER, FACTORY RIFT/TANGENT, BRENTWOOD, CA
- 6 JACK KNOROWSKI, X FACTORY, PHOENIX, AZ
- 7 CASH FERINAC, ORANGE, CA
- 8 CARTER COCHRAN, RIDE CO BIKE SHOP, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
Another World No.1 in attendance was Mr.Jack Kelly; one of our few repeat offenders. Up against 21 riders in 14x, Utah's Kelly had his work cut out for him - but as usual, he was on point and warmed up comemain time. Venom rider Fitzsimonds- from Minnesota, was the closest to the FulTilt'er, but we all know what they say about "close," right? Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and dancing. For Fitzsimonds, it also counted for a 2nd place score.
- 1 JACK KELLY, FULL TILT BIKE CO, KEARNS, UT
- 2 ZADEN FITZSIMONDS, VENOM RACING, COON RAPIDS, MN
- 3 NICOLAS TREJO, SE RACING, LANCASTER, CA
- 4 CHASE WARNOCK, FACTORY FALL RISK RACING, YUMA, AZ
- 5 DAWSON GREMORE, COB/FINDLAY BULLHEAD, LAS VEGAS, NV
- 6 SAMMY MONTIJO, MON AND DAD, TUCSON, AZ
- 7 RYAN CORREIA, FACTORY RIFT/TANGENT, SAN JOSE, CA
- 8 MASON MEININGER, S M CONSULTING, PASCO, WA
With 14 gals signed up, 17-20 ladies was the largest class of the weekend for the girls - and it was chock full of fast femmesand colegiatelocals. Nearby college - Colorado Mesa University (or "CMU" if you're a local) is just a few blocks up the road from Grand Valley BMX - and they've got quite an impressive collegiate force. Fast cats from A-pro Collin Hudson to quick ladies Kaeil Lixandru and Shayla Blackmore, all call CMU home for the next three or four years. And in 17-20 Women, it was all J&R's Lixandru and Haro-Promax's Blackmore showing the ladies the fast lines around their home track.
- 1 KAELI LIXANDRU, J&R BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, PHOENIX, AZ
- 2 SHAYLA BLACKMORE, HARO/PROMAX, DURANGO, CO
- 3 MCKENIZE HANSEN, MOM & DAD, SANDY, UT
- 4 MARIA WILLSEY, GOODYEAR, AZ
- 5 ADRIAN SANDERS, THRODWN, LEAWOOD, KS
- 6 COLE SCHIELD, RIDE CO BIKE SHOP, LITTLETON, CO
- 7 SKYLAR SCHAETZ, MAD/NOWEAR, WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI
- 8 DANIELLE SANCHEZ, LAS CRUCES, NM
By the end of the weekend, we'd witnessed some mighty fast racing, and some tight elbow-to-elbow action. Grand Valley's turns are just that - GRAND! Big, banked and wide open berms make for some great moves, as well as its rhythm-filled last two straightaways provided some close-knit racing to the stripe.
If you've never been to Grand Junction, then you should mark it on your "gotta-go" list.