2022 Winter Nationals race report
NEW YEAR / NEW CHANGES TO BLACK MOUNTAIN >
During the late-December off-season, the Black Mountain crew and USA BMX builder Billy Allen made some big changes to Black Mountain's obstacles. The first, second, third and fourth straightaways were all plowed and re-built. Now, as the National circuit made it's usual stop in Arizona, it'd be time to see what everybody thought of the modifications.
Judging by the crowd, turnout and moto-count, everybody who loves the Winter Nationals, loves Arizona's perfect Winter weather, loves B lack Mountain, or just plain loves BMX, was in attendance.
With up to 337 motos, 2022 was one of the top-3 largest Winter Nationals in history.
As for the new obstacles at Black Mountain, some loved it while others liked the older layout better. Talking to our new No.1 Amateur Sean Day, he said he liked all of the changes except for the triple-jump on the first straight. It was definitely tricky and was giving many riders fits all weekend.
COLLEGE DAYS: BMXERS GETTIN' SCHOOLED
This year's Winter Nationals was also the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships - which would be held over two days and scores tallied up to decide the winner. A Collegiate Champ title would be handed to one male and one female athlete, but the real bragging rights go to the College that wins the overall title.
The chase for the College team title was heated all weekend, with CMU and Marian switching back 'n forth with the points lead. Then on Sunday, Lindsey-Wilson College stepped up their game and scored enough points to overtake the lead and win the overall Championship.
Yes - that means the usually-unbeatable Marian-U, was beat.
Lindsey-Wilson ended their 10 year drought and amazingly, put a stop to the Marian win-streak. Patrick Coo, a LWC student, stated on his FB page - "We were a small team, but mighty."
WINTER NATIONAL - Sunday Results >
COLLEGIATE WOMEN - RIDERS = 23
- 1 OLIVIA ARMSTRONG, MARIAN UNIVERSITY - BEND, OR
- 2 MARIANA GIGLIUTO, MARIAN UNIVERSITY - CLINTONDALE, NY
- 3 KORIE GILBERT, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - PEARLAND, TX
- 4 MYA RAMOS, MARIAN UNIVERSITY, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
- 5 SIERRA ALTENDORF, COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY - EVERETT, WA
- 6 SUMIKO YUKI, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - SACRAMENTO, CA
- 7 GEORGINA GRASSIE, CRAWFORD COLLEGE - BURBAN
- 8 CAITLYN FARMER, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - SANDY SPRINGS, GA
COLLEGIATE MEN - RIDERS = 28
- 1 BRAYDEN KEMPEL, COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY - RAMSEY, MN
- 2 JOSEPH LETO, LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY, RAPID CITY, MI
- 3 MATEO MARASAS, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - COLUMBIA, KY
- 4 JAIME QUINTANILLA, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - COLUMBIA, KY
- 5 RONAN WEBER, MARIAN UNIVERSITY, INDIANAPOLIS, IN
- 6 COOPER BROMLEY, LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY, SAINT CHARLES, MO
- 7 PATRICK COO, LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE - BELLFLOWER, CA
- 8 NOAH BARTON, MARIAN UNIVERSITY, WATERMAN, IL
For the individual titles, the Mens winner went to CMU's Brayden Kempel - the super smooth, ultra stylish ripper from Minnesota who calls Grand Junction, CO his home for now.
And in the Womens field, Oregon native Olivia Armstrong - closing in on her Senior year at Marian University, wrapped up another stars 'n bars Collegiate jersey for her collection.
CHA, CHA, CHA...CHANGES:
NEW TEAMS / NEW RIDERS / NEW UNIFORMS
While Phoenix was the fifth National of the 2022 season, for some of us, this was the first National we'd been to this year. If you hadn't been in Vegas, Florida, Virginia or Tulsa - like me, then you were most likely trying to memorize all of the new riders on new teams wearing new uniforms and a new look.
We see these changes eveyr year - but for 2022, it seems like everybody except for Supercross has changed up their uniforms and team colors.
If the team results from Phoenix are any indicator of what the Bike Shop and Factory title chases are going to be like this year, then we're in for the most amazing Championship chase EVER!
By the end of this weekend, we had three different winners in Factory, and two in Bike Shop.
FALL RISK RACING
One of the best success stories of the weekend could be local team Fall Risk Racing. Sporting their new blue/white team colors, they kicked off the weekend with a HUGE win on Friday, following it up with a couple of seconds behind the Sharks.
Fall Risk's line-up this season includes Black Mountain regulars like Billy Korman and Nick Alejandre (26-35x's), Jesse Moss (10x) and new pick-up Isabella Sargent from Colorado
But the most impressive Fall Risk'er, if you ask me, was The Waterboy - James Walkington. First of all, he kicked off the Winter Nationals by shreddin' the National anthem on his Fender ala Hendrix, then continued to shred in the 11x and cruiser class. On Friday, he placed an impressive second behind Eli Staton and on Sunday, he scored the 11 cruiser win. As if that wasn't impressive enough for the Walkington clan, younger bro Levi "The Patriot" Walkington took a win in 9x! Add that win to Eliza Newton's victory in 10 girls, and it's no wonder they took the Bike Shop win on Day One.
GORDY'S BIKE SHOP
When you come to Black Mountain, everybody knows you'll have to deal with some mighty fast locals - on a variety of teams. But there's one team in particular who for the last three decades, you've gotta watch out for - and that is the GORDY's gang. On Friday, they took an impressive third place - defending their home turf.
Riders like Jason Silva (winner of 46-50x), Jay Smith (9x), Addison Brindley (10g) and Brooklyn Morgan (13g) round out a pretty solid roster full of Black Mountain locals. Stoked on being a part of the Winter Nationals marketing campaign, 7girl Maci Fry proceeded to doinate her class all weekend long.
Team owner/manager Donavon Long are doin' their own thing this year. His riders are no longer limited to riding any particular frame, and he's been busy securing some solid co-sponsors for the Long Sports Group (aka: LSG). While many of Long's Factory Hyper kids from last year stuck by him, the addition of Valentino Elizondo (the racer formerly known as Peter Choat) is going to up their title-contending status.
LSG's big franchise player, of course, is Drew Polk - who finished out last year as NAG No.1 in 17-20x and National No.3. After running an old painted-orange WiaWis carbon frame last year, Polk chose a Meybo for 2022 and is lovin' it. Right now in 17-20x, Polk is THE MAN to beat - and is no doubt a future Pro in the making.
But for a second there, on Saturday, it looked as if he might not even make the big show.
In the 17-20x semi, there was a 5-rider pileup in turn one, and fortunately, Polk got up quick enough get back in the top-4. When Saturday's main rolled in to the gate, everybody knew this would be a crazy one! Down the first straight, it was Polk and Alpha's Cameron Wing (as his "Wing-man," you might say). As they blasted into turn one, Drew gave wing a little flick of his own wing, and Cameron flew off the top of the berm llike Superman. ...right into me, the Camerman. Viewers on the Live Winter Nationals feed got a great view of Wing as he flew right toward the camera, just before he, the tripod and myself went to the ground.
Meanwhile, Polk's lil' push slowed his momentum just enough for LSG team mate Elizondo to take over the lead. Valentino flew out front, but Polk stuck to his back wheel like a seasoned double-A pro. In to turn three, Polk railed it for all it was worth and pulled up alongside Elizondo for a drag race to the next turn. Drew was just slightly smoother and regained the lead for a side-by-side push at the white stripe.
By far - it was THEE most exciting race of the weekend. Glad that I could play a small part in the excitement!
Sunday's 17-20x main was nearly just as thrilling; but not for Drew. Entering turn one in the lead, some contact was made and Polk exploded with a few other riders, resembling a final-lap at Daytona. Carnage everywhere! Incredibly, on the inside, Valentino Elizondo survived and came out of the turn in the lead to check-out for the victory.
Although he only went home with one win, Drew Polk had the lead to the first turn all three days. Getting through the first turn upright was his toughest obstacle. If you don't already follow his YouTube channel, give it a watch and subscribe for a Polk's-eye view of the amazing action.
Who's out to make an major Impact this year? Impact, of course. Led by Vegas pro Makieva Hopson, and starring their new franchise-player - Cedric Cade, Impact could be the big surprise this season. Another good addition for 2022 is former MLB player and longtime Vegas local Brandon Kintzler, who will also be helping coach and mentor the squad. This year, The Entertainer will be running a National No.2 on his plate - and we have good reason to believe that he'll subtract 1 from it by the end of this year.
Also new to the team is last year's No.1 Girl title-contender Jacy Moore, who hails from Port Orchard, WA. IN the toughest girls class of them all - 17-20 women, Moore prevailed with the wins, and team mate Caitlyn Parks joined her on the podium.
Last year, Cashe Hopson - younger bro of Makieva, had really stepped up his game and with his older brother leading the team, surrounded by even more amazing talent, we can expect to see him improve even more in 14x.
For the Winters, Impact started off the weekend with a 2nd place in Bike Shop, then fell one spot each day as the weekend progressed. Believe us, it won't be long before they start scoring multiple wins on any given weekend.
ALBE'S BKE SHOP
With new team manager Scott Angus (formerly winnig multiple Championships for J&R), we can all expect to see the all-new Albe's brigade at the top of Bike Shop points come November. A few of his J&R fans followed him over - including Hayden Passanisi, who gets my personal "Most Stylish Rider of the Weekend" award. Just check out the photo at the top of this post and you'll see what I'm talking about. THe Kid must've been hitting the trails or skateparks during the off-seaosn, because every time Passanisi was on the track, he was catchin' big air and loftin' some killer style!
Another major pick-up for Angus and the Albe's team is the addition of P.J. O'Brien. We're betting that under Scott's tutleledge - concentrating on winning rather than pay-back for the last moto, P.J. will be more focused this year and should be on top of 16x. On Sunday, P.J. finally got out front of Cedric Cade and ended The Entertainer's win-streak.
By the end of the weekend, Albe's wound up with a 3rd on Friday, a 4th on Saturday and another 3rd for the final day. But don't count 'em out of the running just yet - they are just starting to find their groove!
Even without their former-superstar Cedric, the Sharks held on to the rest of their rippers and proved they can get it done without the Entertainer - winning bike shop on both Saturday and Sunday (the only team this weekend to get repeat wins).
Among their impressive roster is the reigning Queen of BMX - Ava Corley, with that fresh black plate with a big No.1 on it. The Girls Champ had some tough competition this weekend with Answer's Danica Anderson, but proved to all on Saturday why she has the No.1 on her plate - checking out of the main by turn one, with a solid four bike length lead.
True Bailey, who rode in the shadows of Cade last year, has now stepped into the spotlight of 15x and will be leaving his mark.
Just like their owner/TM's last name, Alpha plans to be a THREAT in 2022. Shane Threatt has put together another radical roster for this year.
Keep an eye out for Utah's fast 15x Isaac Larson and Washington's Tarin Fields in 14x. They could easily be at the top of their classes by this summer, judging by their current rate of speed and skills.
New to the Alpha team is Black Mountain local Ryder Robinett, whose wins in 13x helped keep Alpha on the podium of team scores on Friday (2nd place) and Sunday (3rd overall). Another big help in doing so came from Alpha's dynamic duo in 7x - Daniel Johnson and Jacob Colwell.
If I had to hand out an award for the best and brightest (most photogenic) new uniform in 2022, I'd have to give it to the Answer squad. Their new yellow jerseys pop out on the track, ensuring that you can easily spot their riders from a mile away. While many team go with the least-photogenic all-Black look, Answer is looking bright, on and off the track. On Friday, Answer scored the Factory team win.
One of their many shining stars - Danica Anderson, has now joined one of the toughest classes for girls = 15-16. As a freshie 15 year old, this class is bound to be exciting, as the Anderson family legacy will be put to the ultimate test, up against the super quick and experienced 16 year olds ...which includes the National No.1 Girl is Ava Corley.
On Friday, Danica and her Answer team mate Chloe Kappen, went one and two, and on Sunday they'd finish out the weekend with a 2 and 3. We can't wait to see more of the Anderson -vs- Corley rivalry this year. It could become the new show to watch, like Ronnie -vs- Cedric was last year.
Answer had plenty of other hotshoes scorin' the wins - from local Chris Sutton in ??x, to Presslie Gould in 12g,
FULL TILT - RADIO
The 3-time consecutive No.1 Factory team came to Arizona with a skelton crew, but still brought plenty of strength to win Factory Team on Saturday. Their star-rider, Sean Day, sporting that illustrious black plate with a bold No.1 of Amateur on it, was the Dude to beat in 15x. Some came close, but nobody could defeat the Champ this weekend.
Eli Staton was also riding on point all weekend, and looks like he's grown about a foot taller since we last seen him. Ly-ly won 11x all weekend - helping Full Tilt - Radio take the Factory team win on Saturday.
If the 2022 Winter Nationals were any indication of what's to come, we are all in for THEE most exciting season of BMX Racing our sport has ever had!
You can quote me on that. Period.