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Photo Gallery: Derby City – Day One

August 31, 2013 by · Comments Off 

Connor Fields wins Day 1 in Louisville

It was an incredibly steamy Friday in Louisville, as the USA BMX Derby City Nationals started its three-day run. With temps in the 90s, and humidity in “steamroom” territory, the whole place was a bit more subdued than it might normally be, with people hiding out in the air-conditioned comfort of their family vehicle, or getting the first round transfer, and heading back to the hotel for a dip in the pool or a full-cold shower.

This is a UCI weekend for the pros, and lots of Elites in the house–including a heapin helping of Euros. There were lead-rider calls for the likes of Vincent Pelluard, Sylvain Andre and others, which gave it that “SX” feel.

Women-wise, Mariana Pajon was up front a lot, but come main time, Alise showed it was going to be a battle for the win into turn one. Just then, Dom Daniels took the hot line inside and may have come up in the lead, but for a break-loose back tire. That took her and Alise out of the race, and gave Mariana a scoot-along win.

In Elite Men, an epic wreck in the semis (we got the photo, so go find it in the gallery) kept Sam Willoughby from mixing it up with Connor Fields in the main. No Elite Men’s win is “easy,” but Connor made it look that way, with a healthy margin at the line.

Lots of amateur stand-outs…too many for details, just 30 minutes before the first gate on Saturday, but we will be shining the light on lots of them in our re-cap on Monday.

For now, please take a look at the Friday Photo Gallery, and share out your favorites.

Links

2013 Derby City Nationals Friday Photos

2013 Derby City Nationals – Results (via USABMX.COM)






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Dan’s Comp Louisville Clinic

August 20, 2013 by · Comments Off 

BMXNEWS - Dan's Comp clinic in Louisville

Dan’s Comp has their whole posse of pedal pushers en route to Louisville next week. On Thursday, start the weekend off right by joining in on their two-hour clinic from 10AM-Noon. That is two hours of track time with an all-star lineup, including Weston Pope, Matt Pohlkamp, Colombian National Team coach, and Dan’s USA Factory flyer, German Medina, and Olympic Gold Medalist Mariana Pajon. Plus, if you were not sold yet…it’s FREE!

Holy Toledo…er…Louisville.

Links

More Info on the Dan’s Comp Louisville Clinic

Mariana Pajon Olympic Jersey Fetches $16k

August 9, 2013 by · Comments Off 

BMX Racing News - Mariana Pajon Olympic Jersey Auction

August 10 is the one year anniversary of the finals in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Mariana Pajon took Colombia to Gold in the Elite Womens final, wearing the jersey you see above.

Last week, that very camiseta went up for auction on Colombian online auction site “Mercado Libre.” The auction proceeds will go to Mariana’s Foundation “Pedalando Por Un Sueño” (Pedaling For a Dream).

The auction ended today, with a final bid of 30 Million Colombian Pesos (USD$16,000). The site lists the last 10 bids, starting at 13 Million, up to the final bid of 30, all made on the final day, so we have to assume there were many more (the site does not list the total number of bids entered). Note: The pictured medal was not part of the sale.

Mariana is a bona-fide celebrity, in Colombia, and around the world, with a Facebook fan page numbering 1,033,607 likes, so no mystery as to why her jersey would fetch such a number. In fact, some commenters on the auction page felt it should have gone for more.

She races often in the US, so if you get a chance, go say hello (she is likely hanging around the Dan’s Comp trailer, her sponsor for US races); you will find her a very approachable and down-to-Earth person.

Congratulations to the foundation, and the lucky auction winner.

Links

Mariana Pajon Olympic Jersey Auction





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Mariana Pajon Returns to Dan’s Comp

February 28, 2013 by · Comments Off 

Olympic Gold Medalist Mariana Pajon will ride for Dan's Comp in 2013

Big news from the Dan’s Comp ticker here in the BMX News Global Command Center. 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Mariana Pajon will be suited up in the Dan’s Comp colors in Phoenix this weekend, and beyond. This event actually marks a return to the Dan’s team for Mariana, who rode for them for years, before the last incarnation of the team disbanded in 2008.

Word is that Mariana will be continuing aboard her Colombian-brand “GW” Frame.

Colombian National Coach German Medina is also in on the action, with a Dan’s kit all his own, and a USA BMX card for 41-Over Ex and Cruiser.

This phoenix race is going to be off the chain. It’s not too late to get a plane ticket and come on down!

Fast Fact: Mariana has 923,043 Facebook fans.

Links

Dan’s Comp Website

Mariana Pajon on Facebook





Speedco Top Story, Presented by Speedco Bicycles

Time Machine: Action-Packed Olympic BMX Semis

August 11, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Mariana Pajon - Olympic BMX London

By Mike Carruth

Yesterday, we gave away the punchline of the 2012 Olympic BMX event, by posting our re-cap of the Final, before telling of the action that took place in the semifinals.

That was a decision forced by the instant-everything media environment in which we all live. I can remember a time when I would take a week or more to write an ABA Grands story, before turning it in, so subscribers to the magazine I worked for could read about it, three months later. The dust from those stone tablets got all over everything. Those days are obviously long, long gone (at least for me).

Regardless of the fact that you now know the outcome, the action that took place in the semis, and the history written along with it, is a major part of the story. To me, it was essential to invest the time in writing proper coverage on it, adding to the volumes that will ultimately be written about BMX Racing in the 2012 Olympic Games.

There are some amazing twists and turns to how 32 of the best BMXers on the planet bracketed-down to the final 16, and we decided to go “long-copy” on it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. /MC

WOMENS SEMIFINALS

GROUP ONE

Round One
It was close down the early part of the first straight, Reade with a wheel in the lead, and Alise Post a wheel behind. Caroline was out of lane one on the inside, and gained ground on Post and Reade in the air over the second set, to take the lead. Read cut sharply to the left, and got an elbow in front of Alise as they entered the turn. le Corguille slipped under Alise in turn one, but Post immediately battled back to the three spot. Down the second straight, it was Buchanan, Reade, Post and Le Corguille. Stefany Hernandez was in the four spot down the third straight, but over-manualed the first roller in the treacherous third-straight rhythm, and it bucked her into the weeds (well, there WERE no weeds on this pristine Olympic track, so hope you’ll allow some literary license).

Round Two

Reade was out to an early lead, with le Corguille on her direct left. Alise was a bike behind Reade, and half-a-bike ahead of Caroline, who was riding the extreme left-edge of the track. Laetitia landed the first jump funny, and was down quicker than a calf at a rodeo, leaving Hernandez to battle Alise for the two-spot. Caro’ was railing up the inside in third, and Lauren Reynolds and Brooke Crain were waiting for a chance to charge from the back of the pack.

That didn’t take long, as Alise vectored inside, pinching off Caroline’s line and letting Lozza Bear zoom the outside line into fourth place, as they headed for the tunnel.

Shanaze was still solidly in the lead, with no real challenge this trip…as was Hernandez in the deuce. Alise was in third, and there was a moment when Reynolds might have challenged, but she hung her back wheel on the first set in the second straight…and the second set too, allowing Caroline to catch up, then pass through the tunnel.

Launching out of the tunnel, Alise landed it wrong, and inertia tossed her to the ground, right in Caroline’s path…but #68 put her swerve on, and got around Alise to the outside. The others followed. Brooke caught Reynolds at the mid-point of the third straight, and it crossed the line as Reade, Hernandez, Buchanan and Crain. A pretty intense 38.858 seconds.

Round Three
Alise’s crash in the second round was weighing heavy on Team USA fans. We were all hoping she was physically OK, of course, but we all know she is tougher than rhinoceros jerky, so thoughts turned quickly to whether the math would work out to still put her in that main event gate, with the right finish here. And it was looking good. Her third place, first round, combined decently with her seventh place in the second round (le Corguille was down a long time and got the 8). Alise was sitting fourth, with 10 points, behind Shanaze and Caroline (tied with three apiece), and Brooke with nine. Lauren Reynolds had 11. Lots of different ways it could go, so let’s just run it and find out.

Brooke Crain of Team USA pays tribute to her injured teammate, Arielle Martin in the Olympic BMX semifinals in London
As the live-feed TV camera panned down the gate, it reached Brooke in gate two. She flashed a left-handed wave, and revealed an “AMV” on her palm as a silent tribute to Arielle Martin, whom she replaced on the US team when Arielle suffered a dreadful training accident 48-hours before getting on the plane. A very classy display from the 19-year old out of Visalia, CA!

Down the hill, and back to our favorite freeze-frame point, the air over the first set, it was le Corguille, who apparently shook off the round-two crash pretty well. Shanaze, Caroline and Lauren were indistinguishable at that moment-in-time for the 2-3-4 spots. Brooke was back in seventh, slightly behind Alise.

But it was Caroline who emerged as the leader, deep in the first straight (Reynolds was down moments after the last checkpoint), with Reade on the inside, in second, and le Corguille in third and Crain in fourth by then.

Out of the tunnel, it was still Buchanan, Reade and leCorguille. Hernandez had taken up fourth and Alise had a slight margin on Brooke, early in the third straight.

It stayed that way down the length of the third straight, but Brooke was blazing the inside. One roller to go before the last turn, and Alise was even with Stefany, though on the extreme outside…and Brooke suddenly even with both of them, with the extreme inside to exploit, which she used to tremendous advantage in the next few seconds. Crain cut the inside razor-sharp, and it paid off huge, coming inside Hernandez and Post, and into contention for fourth place. Alise had the four-spot, which would have punched her ticket to the final, but suddenly fell victim to “the Troublemaker” out of the last turn–the very same spot Brooke met her fate on Wednesday. Alise was down hard, and the level of emotion at that moment must have pushed any physical pain out of the way. More on that in a second. At the stripe, it finished Buchanan, Reade, le Corguille, Hernandez and Crain.

So, Caroline and Shanaze were in the final. Brooke’s fifth-place finish was enough to get the third qual spot. Laetitia and Stefany tied for points, with 15, but le Corguille’s higher finish in this lap made her the fourth qualifier.

The medics were with Alise in a split-second, and she was understandably shaken to the core. Physical pain was in the background, as she began to crawl her way to her feet to finish the lap, still clutching the handlebars of her Redline. She lost balance and fell to the ground. It was, at the same time, a heartbreaking sight to see, but also one that literally brought a tearful pride for us here in the States.

Womens BMX London : Alise Post escorted off the track by a medic after her crash in the semifinals
The medics were not going to let her take a second-go at riding off, but we know Alise was saying “I have to finish…I have to cross the line…” we just know it. She was helped, on foot, by a medic, over the final few rollers, and across the finish line, so she could complete what she set out to do. Whatever was to take place in the main event, THIS display of courage and finishing what she started was, indeed, the heart and soul of what it means to be an Olympian.

GROUP TWO

Round One
Pajon was looking very solid, and confident all day. Put the bike down exactly where it needed to be. She headed into the first turn of the first round in the lead, with Pottier on her right. Laura Smulders was in fifth or sixth in the second straight, then battled back to third, but had some trouble down the third straight rhythm. Got back on the gas, and made a bold charge to the inside on Sarah Walker in the last turn. Aneta Hladakova was third, and a photo between Walker and Smulders, which ultimately went to Laura.

Round Two
Sarah was smiling for the TV cameras in the gate, coming out of gate five. Mariana chose gate one, with Pottier in two. Down the hill and over the first set, Sarah was out to the lead, with Mariana a wheel or so off the pace. That changed in the air over the second set, as Mariana bounded into the lead, and opened up a margin with a big backside. In the crux of turn one, Pottier had nosed in, and was on the bleeding-edge of the stripe, under Sarah, and came out in second. Smulders rode Romana Labounkova high to take up fourth. Out of the tunnel, it was Pajon, Pottier, Smulders and Labounkova, with Walker shopping for an upgrade from the five spot. Sarah bounded past Romana down the third straight and it would finish as Pajon, Pottier

Round Three
Barring any kind of strange happenings in this lap, Mariana Pajon would be in the final–her pair-of-aces being strong against almost any eventuality, save for a DNF. Magalie Pottier was sitting on double-deuces, and was riding well enough to feel secure. And Laura Smulders, who just months ago was an underdog to make the Dutch team for London, with seven points going in to the last round. Sarah Walker and Aneta Hladakova had a tie to break with nine apiece. Again, anything can happen, in any given lap–especially here–but that’s how it penciled out as Danny Oakley pushed the button to get it started.

Over the second set, the mid-point of the first straight, Pajon had the lead, with Walker a wheel ahead of Pottier. Smulders got off the ramp late, but made it up, and was charging hard for fourth.

Into the first turn, Walker had a sliver of a lead, but was on the outside. Pajon was inside, with Pottier in the middle. Mariana rode the paint hard on the inbound, and was the clear leader by the time they exited the turn…then Pottier, Walker and Smulders. Out of the tunnel, the top two were the same, but Laura slipped inside of Sarah, and took up the three-spot momentarily. But Sarah Walker was mega-strong down that third straight, and fought back into third early. Not much to report after that, as it crossed Pajon, Pottier, Walker and Smulders.

So, the 2012 Olympic BMX Final for the Women would be:
Shanaze Reade (GBR)
Laetitia leCorguille (FRA)
Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
Mariana Pajon (COL)
Magalie Pottier (FRA)
Sarah Walker (NZL)
Brooke Crain (USA)
Laura Smulders (NED)

MENS SEMIFINALS

GROUP ONE

Round One
Raymon van der Biezen and Connor Fields both went undefeated in the quarterfinals. Raymon chose gate one, Connor was in gate two and Liam Phillips in five for the first round.

The race was in the air over the first jump in the blink of an eye, four-abreast, with Raymon, Connor, Liam and Treimanis haulin’ the mail toward turn one. Over the triple into the turn, Raymon had a slight edge on Phillips, and Connor was on the Brit’s left chainstay. Caleyron came from sixth place, exploding to the inside, and railing a line that had taken down many this week. Well, this time was no different, as he impacted Connor’s left side, and threw both of them off balance, into the pavement. Raymon and Liam were clear of the carnage, and Jimenez was far enough behind to miss the wreckage. The rest of the lap was ho-hum for the three who stayed up, and Connor was back on his bike and on the pedals to grab fourth.

Round Two
The gate dropped for the second time on the Men, about 25 minutes after the first. Andres Jimenez replaced Connor Fields in lane two, and Liam Phillips chose lane three, with Raymon van der Biezen on the inside and Fields over in lane four. At the crest of the backside on the first set, it was Connor by a wheel, with Liam and Raymon staggered in 2-3 by about the same margin.

Raymon led it into turn one, with Phillips tucking in behind him, and Connor on the charge into the second straight. Quentin Caleyron was in fourth. Connor had taken up second by the time the pack hit the S-turn, and was definitely shopping for more.

It took til about the mid-point on the third straight for Connor’s insane skills to put him even, then ahead, of Raymon and his no-lap-lost magic. Phillips and the rest of the pack were, probably, four bikes back by this point. It looked about the same into the last turn.

But, on the outbound, Liam exploded through the inside, and was even with the second-place van der Biezen’s bottom bracket. He was still third at the stripe, to Connor and Raymon, but a AA for effort on getting within striking distance. Caleyron added a 4 to his first-round 8, after crashing out in turn one.

Round Three
Raymon gated up for the third round on top of the points, with three. Connor and Liam were ties with five apiece, and Andres Jimenez had nine. Rihards Veide had 11. We did not see what happened to KY in the second round, but he was 8th, with a DNS for the third round, so hope our friend is OK.

Midway down the first straight, it was Phillips and Fields even to the lead, with Raymon, Caleyron and Treimanis all-bunched-up for a three-battle.

At the top of the second straight, Connor opened up a wee-bit of a lead on Phillips, but it was only 12 seconds in. The Dutch Orange of van der Biezen was in third and Edzus Treimanis in fourth, as the pack hit the first set.

Treimanis was positioned well for the S-turn, and broke into the third straight under, and in front of, Raymon. But it was Fields in a solid lead, with nothing but daylight and a capacity 6,000-person crowd in front of him. Edzus boosted into the two-spot, as the pack railed into the third straight. Just as we were about to put the “that’s-all-folks” stamp on this one, Jimenez mounted an incredible last-straight charge, and flew past the third place Phillips AND the fourth-place van der Biezen, to take the third, behind Fields and Treimanis. Phillips was fourth. So, after poking at the iPhone calculator for a moment, we netted out with the first half of the Olympic BMX main event: Fields, van der Biezen, Phillips and Jimenez.

Anyone who says there is no passing in Olympic BMX needs to sit and watch this lap a few dozen times, with the last straight comeback that earned Andres his spot in the final.

GROUP TWO

Round One
Daudet took lane one for the first semi with van Gendt next to him, Willoughby in gate 3, and Carlos Oquendo in four. On the other side of the ProGate ram was Marc Willers out of five, David Herman out of six, and Maris Strombergs out of seven and Roger Rinderknecht out of eight. Over the first-turn triple, Sam was in the lead, with Willers in second and Daudet on the extreme inside. Would he take the “suicide line?” Meanwhile Maris was camping out on the extreme outside in last place. Was it strategy, or was The Machine having an off day? Twan ended up getting a little out of form into the turn, and bumping Joris and sending him beyond the boundary and into the gravel for a sec.

That let Carlos Quendo in for third, and Maris to take up fourth. Oquendo gained some serious speed out of turn two, and edged even with Willers in the first-third of the third straight. It was a horse race, until Marc landed slightly askew on the eighth roller–and there is just no margin for that kind of thing on this track. Marc was down hard, and David Herman took up third, with Maris coasting in for fourth.

Round Two
Sam was out of lane one, with Carlos Oquendo next to him and David Herman in gate three. Maris Strombergs was out of gate four, Twan van Gendt out of five, Joris Daudet in six, Willers in seven and Rinderknecht in eight.

At the instant the pack came off the hill, van Gendt had the lead, by a wheel with Sam and Maris about even. It stayed that way through the mid-point, but Sam opened up about a bike on Maris and Joris by that point.

Into turn one, it was still Twan with the lead. Sam had the inside, so no joy for Joris to scoot in under him. The pack fell in, single-file, out of the turn with the board reading “van Gendt, Willoughby, Daudet and Strombergs.”

BMX Racing from London 2012 Olympics: Sam WIlloughby closes fast on Twan van Gendt
If all you knew about this lap was the above image, you’d be missing a major part of the story, because seconds later, Sam took the lead, with Twan falling back to second. Joris and Maris were 3-4, as the pack turned for home.

In the time it took the live stream to cut from the turn to the last straight, Joris was even, and maybe a little ahead of Twan, but Sam was in command. Joris hit “The Troublemaker” out of last turn, and lost his groove, giving Twan back the two-spot. Maris was fourth, Oquendo fifth and Herman sixth.

Round Three
Math class was back in session this time out, as we peeked at the points going in to the all-important third round. Willoughby was on two points, so that was a first-grade cinch. After that, it got a whole lot more interesting, with van Gent and Oquendo tied for second, with seven. Strombergs had eight, and Herman and Daudet tied with nine.

Marc Willers was sitting on a devastating 16 points, owing to his first round wreck, and was a DNS for the final go-round. So bummed for one of the true good guys.

They were re-racked, and ready for round three, with Sam back in gate one. It wasn’t the main event, but to get to the once-every-four-years Olympic final, most would have to rider like it was for all the marbles.

And ride, they did. Over the first set, it was almost too-even-to-call, with van Gendt’s Redline and Strombergs’ Free Agent a sliver in the lead.

Olympic BMX: Twan van Gendt takes defending Gold medalist Maris Strombergs high in turn one of the semifinals
Into turn one, Maris was on fire, but Twan had the inside, and rode it oh-so-high (above) to take the lead. Maris yielded, and would live to fight down the second straight, with Willoughby in third, and Daudet/Herman a toss-up for fourth.

Just then, though, Joris pivoted strongly through the apex, and suddenly came up in second, as the pack raced toward the second straight. Carlos Oquendo. Man, this guy had the eye of the tiger in a big way, all day…sixth place into the turn, but by the time the pack hit the backside of the first set on the second straight, he was up to battling with Maris for third. Daudet’s landing on that first set was less-than-smooth, and that threw him off-rhythm, and ill-prepared for the big step-up. Maris was in second by then, and Oquendo was right next to Joris for a challenge on the third-spot. The two made contact on the landing and the already-off-kilter Daudet got the worst of it, spinning into the ground. That interrupted David Herman’s descent, but Twan, Maris and Carlos were clear, with Sam also still in the hunt.

Sam made up ground quick down the third straight to pass Carlos for the three-spot. At the line, it was a photo for the win, between Twan and Maris, then Sam and Carlos. Twan got the call on the photo, but his qual spot was the same, regardless–second behind Sam.

The 2012 Olympic Mens Final would be:
Connor Fields (USA)
Raymon van der Biezen (NED)
Maris Strombergs (LAT)
Andres Jimenez (COL)
Sam Willoughby (AUS)
Liam Phillips (GBR)
Carlos Oquendo (COL)
Twan van Gendt (NED)

Olympic BMX fans packed the London 2012 BMX venue
A total of 12 gates had fallen to this point. It took about an hour and 15 mins to run ‘em, and 3326 words to describe it. Everyone in the stands, and at home, had their picks for the podium. And 31 minutes later, it would be known who our Olympic BMX medalists would be for the next four years.

Now Read the Main Event Re-Cap

Links

London 2012 BMX Homepage (includes results)

NBC Olympics Home

London 2012 Olympic BMX Discussion – VintageBMX.com


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Pajon Wins, Strombergs Repeats Olympic BMX Gold

August 10, 2012 by · Comments Off 

BMX Gold Medalists Mariana Pajon and Maris Strombergs

An incredible day of ups & down for the 32 BMX Olympians who started the day off in London. It’s hard to imagine that the daily routines of waking up, brushing one’s teeth and having a quick breakfast were the same as any normal race day. Well, you can bet we’ll be asking about that in the interviews we do in the coming days.

Later today, BMXNEWS will bring you a complete report on the semifinals that ultimately created the final gate of eight in both the mens and women’s Olympic BMX events.

But before we do that, we are going to rearrange time a bit, and tell you about the final now, since every news outlet in the known universe is clobbering the keys on their laptops, just as we are, sprinting to get the story posted.


2012 Olympic Games
WOMENS BMX FINAL
(from the INSIDE)
Shanaze Reade (GBR)
Laetitia leCorguille (FRA)
Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
Mariana Pajon (COL)
Magalie Pottier (FRA)
Sarah Walker (NZL)
Brooke Crain (USA)
Laura Smulders (NED)

Three of the eight riders in today’s main event were also in the Beijing final in 2008. Laetitia leCorguille (Silver), Sarah Walker (4th), and Shanaze Reade (8th, after crashing in the last turn while in second).

Mariana hit the bottom of the hill first, but Sarah was first in the air over the first jump. The grouping was pretty tight, but at the midpoint the lead had changed again, and it was Mariana, Sarah and Laetitia. with Reade, Buchanan and Smulders pretty even for fourth. The lead spot stayed pretty even through the first turn, but Mariana started opening up a margin as the pack bolted into the second straight, toward the tunnel.

Smulders made up some serious ground on leCorguille in the second straight, and positioned herself for a career-making move in turn two. Out of the tunnel, laura planted herself at precisely the right place in the turn, and momentarily passed Walker and leCorguille. Walker quickly made up the lost ground, and was back in the two spot, but her move on leCorguille stuck. Pajon was still rocketing toward the last turn–and on to the history books.

Not much changed down the last straight, except Laetitia made a bid for the inside that put her in the perimeter for a moment…but the Redline of Smulders stayed on the power, and it crossed: Pajon, Walker, Smulders for the podium. The balance went le Corguille, Buchanan, Reade, Pottier and Crain.

2012 Olympic Games
WOMENS BMX FINAL – RESULTS

Mariana Pajon (COL) – Gold
Sarah Walker (NZL) – Silver
Laura Smulders (NED) – Bronze

Laetitia leCorguille (FRA)
Caroline Buchanan (AUS)
Shanaze Reade (GBR)
Magalie Pottier (FRA)
Brooke Crain (USA)


2012 Olympic Games
MENS BMX FINAL
(from the INSIDE)
Connor Fields (USA)
Raymon van der Biezen (NED)
Maris Strombergs (LAT)
Andres Jimenez (COL)
Sam Willoughby (AUS)
Liam Phillips (GBR)
Carlos Oquendo (COL)
Twan van Gendt (NED)

Obviously, Maris was the defending Gold Medalist, but a lot of the attention was being directed to van der Biezen, after his Time Trial win, and three aces in the quarterfinals. Same for Connor Fields, who had won five of six Olympic laps (and crashed in the first turn of the first semi lap, got up and still took fourth). And, of course Willoughby, the world champ, who had the hyper-technical third straight wired tight.

Jimenez was in the 2008 Beijing main event with Maris, taking fourth, behind Donny Robinson.

The gate was down, and Maris was out to the lead, before the pack was even half-way down the hill. At the transition, it was Phillips, who led the race for a split second, over the first jump. Connor and Raymon seemed to have some trouble on the inside, and were working to get back forward. And that was only 3.9 seconds into a 37.576 second lap.

Into the first turn, it was still Strombergs with a widening lead. Willoughby had moved for the inside, and was in second. Phillips was still in medal position, with van Gendt on the far outside, but about even with Liam. Down the Second straight, Sam was on Maris’ left, and pulling closer. Phillips unclipped over the big step-up, just prior to the S-turn, leaving Oquendo a route to the Right (which would be inside in about a second). Carlos pointed a direct line through the S, cutting the inside very close on the landing, and coming up in third.

All quiet down the third straight, but the last turn could have proved ugly. Sam had pulled just close enough that, if he wanted to try one last “Hail Mary” move to swipe Maris’ lead, this would be the time. It would have been an ill-adviced decision, to say the least, and Sam tucked in for a final dash to the finish.

Meanwhile the bronze was still being hotly contested, in the bottom of the third straight, as Raymon van der Biezen had moved through the pack and was even, though on the outside of Oquendo. Through the last turn, though, there was no move to be made for Raymon, and he would place finish an off-podium fourth.

2012 Olympic Games
MENS BMX FINAL – RESULTS

Maris Strombergs (LAT) – Gold
Sam Willoughby (AUS) – Silver
Carlos Oquendo (COL) – Bronze

Raymon van der Biezen (NED)
Twan van Gendt (NED)
Andres Jimenez (COL)
Connor Fields (USA)
Liam Phillips (GBR)

Oquendo had come from seventh place in the first turn to capture Colombia’s second BMX medal of the day–the only country with two BMX medalists in London.

The stands were still nearly full as the medal ceremony was conducted, and the six medalists for the 2012 games were officially recognized, and presented their medals. As an American, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I would have liked to have heard “The Star Spangled Banner” at least once this time around.

But both Maris and Mariana absolutely top-drawer, both as athletes, and as ambassadors for our sport. They deserve every bit of praise they’ll be getting for their exemplary performance. Congratulations to both, as well to Sarah, Laura, Sam and Carlos, and all the coaches and supporters who made their trip to the absolute pinnacle of BMX Racing possible.

—Mike Carruth

Stars & Stripes Nationals: “First” Edition

July 11, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Corben Sharrah wins in South Park

The fact that this was the first Stars & Stripes National under the USA BMX banner was fitting for the annual South Park classic. There were plenty more “firsts” at this race, and we’ll get into them, as we talk about the regular stuff the weekend had in store.

We can’t help but think of the South Park track as the “Dick Clark of BMX Tracks” (in the most complimentary way). We all seem to get older, yet the South Park track remains classic, practically unchanged, across the generations.

Oh, sure, our old friend has “had some work done” over the years–reshaped some parts, built other parts bigger, to suit the era. And while Dick Clark sadly passed away this past April, the South Park BMX track seems to be just getting started–34 years after the first gate dropped.

Our Friday preview mentioned that the last time I was there was the 1982 NBL Grands–as a 15-year-old, stuffed in the back of a cargo van, with bikes, gear bags and seven or eight other BMXers. Trips like that are the ones we look back on 30 years later to really appreciate what BMX has given us, in the longview.

The creature comforts may have changed for a 15-year old at the 2012 South Park stop– they’re rockin to iPhones instead of the Sony Walkman II (with a few dozen cassette tapes clogging up their bag). And the no-seats cargo van has given-way to an SUV with a personal DVD system for each passenger, GPS navigation and heated/cooled seats…but the experience of hitting the road to South Park after dad gets off work on Thursday is a constant, regardless of what century is on your membership card.

For those of us behind the camera, it’s the same, yet technologically different too. I shot the equivalent of 12 rolls of 36-exposure film this year–all on a little chip the size of a single 35mm frame–and our beloved readers got to see them that very night. But the anticipation of getting the perfect shutter-snap, with the on-track action just right, is exactly the same as when I covered the 82 Grands for Super BMX Magazine.

Enough strolling down memory lane–this race had a lot of stories to tell about the future of our sport. It was one of the first times we got to see how strong the next crop of Elites will be. This is the cool thing about “Elite” racing (as opposed to “Pro” racing), we get to have our cake and eat it too, in terms of seeing how the tippy-top experts will fair once they get their pro card. I’ll get to the details of that in a bit.

It’s July in the Eastern United States, so there was little doubt it was going to be HOT. But the reality was heat in the way that ONLY the Eastern US can serve up. Crushingly, stiflingly, “I-feel-like-I’m-walking-on-marshmallows-now-and-am-about-to-pass-out” kind of heat. There was talk that, perhaps, the heat held the moto count down a bit, but the 213 motos we had on Saturday was an impressive jump over the last couple of years.

The top classes were well filled-out, with 21 in A Pro, 22 in Elite Men, 11 in Jr Men and a lucky 13 in Elite Women. On the other side of the spectrum, 18 Strider riders came out to kick the weekend off right, with a healthy dose of cuteness.

German Medina and his Colombian crew were in the house to get in some pre-Olympic comp, American style. Mariana Pajon is definitely a contender for the Women’s podium in London, and it was awesome to see her one last time before she disappears into the Olympic Village. The day after South Park, the whole of their contingent were hopping a big bird to France for some fine-tuning and final training, then on to London Town for the Opening Ceremonies, where Mariana will carry the Colombian flag in the “Parade of Athletes” on July 27.

Closer to home, South Park saw an “all hands” team presence from several of the Factory squads. Answer Rennen was in full effect, as was Answer Ssquared, Felt BMX, GT Bicycles, DK Bicycles, Star BMX Products, and a few more.

Back to the track for a moment, South Park’s legendary decisionmaker/pro set out of turn two was the scene for tons of crowd-pleasing moments throughout the weekend. There was a spirited debate on Vintage as to whether it was “smaller” than in previous years, but to most outside the forums, it really didn’t matter. Riders “going right” added major action to the program, and no numbers on a measurement tape could cloud that.

The first A Pro gate of the weekend saw Jon Miller’s Doublecross take the lead, and get the weekend started proper for Bob Deily’s orange crew. Bob hauled up from Oklahoma in the big DX van, after touching down in OKC on a flight from Salt Lake.

But South Park’s A Pro class was owned full-on by Logan Collins. If not for a first-round second to Phil Delizia on Saturday, Logan would have scored a perfect weekend. Add a Saturday win in Salt Lake to the mix, and it’s only a matter of time before Logan earns his upgrade to AA. Exciting to see the man in action! Speaking of Delizia, a sixth in Saturday’s semi kept him out of the main, but he was back in the gate of eight for Sunday, and brought Answer Rennen a second, behind Logan. Factory Yess Kiwi, Daniel Franks hit the podium in third on Saturday, and it was Señor Smoothy, Diego Alejandre from Virginia on Sunday’s third step.

Junior-in-Name-Only

We’re glad to see Jr. Men making a class at most races these days, and only hope the Jr. Women get to the window more often with some entries as the 2012 season plays out.

In South Park, there were some major expert-class names doing battle for the bucks. We had the Ssquared of Maliek Byndloss, the Hyper ride of Lain van Ogle, the Answer Ssquared orange of Tyler Whitfield and the jumpin GT ride of Jordan Miranda meeting seven other hard-chargers in the class.

In Saturday’s main, Byndloss, Whitfield and van Ogle all hit the first jump even, but Tyler was in the middle, and got shut down for the lead early-on. Maliek hit turn one, with Lain on his left flank, and bolted down the second straight, with nothing but daylight in front of him. Lain started gaining some ground over the pro set, and by the time the pack hit the entry to the last turn, the orange and black Hyper kit was on the inside, and ready to take it. Heading for home, it was van Ogle, Byndloss and Miranda…and that’s the way it finished, with Whitfield in fourth.

Day One Jr. Men Main (via USA BMX)

On day two, it looked like a redux of day one, with Maliek and Lain out to the early lead. Both had aced all three motos, so this would be where the bragging rights would be bestowed…maybe. Tyler was in the three-spot down the first straight this time, and coming out of the inside gate, would have a clearer shot at making a race of it than on day one. He had the horsepower to get in front of five others, all aiming to the inside as the pack headed toward turn one. But Lain had the prime inside into one, and was about-even with Maliek, trying to put some body English into the momentum and get a shoulder in front of Byndloss for the set-up to the second straight. That did not quite work out because, if you’ve ever seen Maliek live and in person, his “brick-house” build is not one that’s easily moved–thus Lain scrubbed off his speed, and went off-pace, riding the high-white-line, and letting Tyler, Doug Widdows and Brandon Ceslok by. Maliek led it by a healthy margin into the pro set, but Tyler got a major backside off the second set, which pushed him close for the critical last-straight rhythm.

Maliek Byndloss and Tyler Whitfield at the USA BMX Stars & Stripes Nationals
Tyler’s bike-handling skills are about as sharp as it gets. We have all seen the YouTube videos of his manualing a quarter-mile on hilly pavement, manualing the whole Rockford track and the like. Well, those vids are not just theater…there’s a time when that kind of control pays off. And this was one of them. It took him til the final 10 inches of track, but he got in front of Maliek by half a wheel, for his first win in the Jr. Men class. It was a helluva race, and both Ssquared-mounted stars should be proud of the excitement they brought for the fans packing the fences. Doug Widdows got in for the third, by a wheel, over Big B.

Day Two Jr. Men Main (via USA BMX)

This is probably a good time to tell you that, as the Semis were ending up on Saturday, Mother Nature decided it was prime time to water the track. Within the 40 minutes between Logan Collins’ A Pro Semi win, and Felt flyer, Jeremy Thompson’s 41-Over Expert Semi win, the sky had turned dark, and ready for a thunderboomer. Sitting in the air-conditioned heaven of Wednesday, it’s hard to describe how uncomfortable it was to be drenched in sweat, then to have a humid rain baste you, only to have a baking sun return, greenhouse style. Still, it was fun hanging out in the old announcer’s tower with Jerry Mania, talking BMX, and comparing notes on the day.

Rain Delay at the 2012 USA BMX Stars & Stripes Nationals
It was the very same announcer’s tower where Linda Dorsey entertained tens of thousands of fans over the years, and it was not hard to imagine her right there with us, as she surely was, no doubt.

It was only about 40 minutes of rain delay before Derby City BMX local Tate Ammon took the win in the 6-Under Mixed Open main event. The decision was made to run the pros after cruisers, to let the track dry out a bit. The above ditty about the rain is important, for the next part of the Saturday story.

The Women
Mariana Pajon and Felicia Stancil at South Park BMX
The Elite Women’s class was all-the-way-live in South Park, with Dom Daniels and Mariana Pajon doing battle, as they have before at one ABA event or another (remember, anything before 1/1/12 was “ABA”). Only this time, Felicia Stancil was bumped up to Elite as well, due to no Junior class. And that made it all-the-more exciting. First round on Saturday set the tone for the weekend, as Felicia and Mariana were in the same moto. Mariana was in the lead through the second turn, but she decided to go left on the third straight, while Felicia decided to go right, boosting the pro set with absolute authority, and taking the lead…and the first round win. That, undoubtedly, surprised Mariana, because she was on the right side for the rest of the weekend. Second round was just as awesome, as Mariana and Felicia hit the pro set, practically-even (above…thanks for the awesome photo, by the way!). Mariana aced the final two motos, and was ready for Dom to come into the mix for the big show after the rain came. Dom was coming off three moto wins, and was ready to take it to the front for Doublecross.

Dom’s horsepower is unreal, and she holeshotted the Saturday main from lane four, with Mariana (coming out of lane one) about a bike back by the first jump. Felicia was out of gate five, and a tad off of Mariana’s second place, as the pack raced toward turn one.

Dom was about two bikes in front as they entered the turn, when her front wheel came unstuck (due to a still-moist track, perhaps), and sent her and a charging Pajon to the asphalt. Felicia barely avoided the carnage, riding the razor-edge of the white line, and stuttered only a split second before getting back on the gas as the inherited lead-rider. Alaina Henderson’s Felt ride was on that same evasive-action path, and followed Felicia into the second straight, with Baylie Kortman in the three-spot. Baylie was in second by turn two, but Felicia was a long-gone leader by then, hitting the pro set, as she had the three times before. On the top of the Elite Women’s Podium for the first time would be Stancil, then Kortman and Henderson.

Felicia would later post on Facebook:

Not the way I wanted to get the W but i still got it:) FIRST ELITE WOMEN WIN

We have no doubt that there are plenty more proper wins coming soon.

Day One Elite Women Main (via USA BMX)

On Day Two, Dom and Mariana drew the same moto, and Felicia went 1-1 and a cruise-lap for sixth, with Madison Pitts from Madera taking the third round win. in the second rack, Mariana and Dom went 1-2-1 and 2-1-2, respectively..with all sights on an undisturbed, flat-out-for-all-the-dinero main event.

In Sunday’s main, the lead was closer at the first jump than Saturday, with Mariana coming out of Gate one again, Dom from four, again, and Felicia giving herself some room to work this time, out in lane seven. By the crest of the first jump, it was Dom by a wheel on Mariana, and Felicia even with Pajon’s bottom bracket. Mariana blazed the second jump, and was in the lead as the pack headed into turn one…but Dom was applying some pressure on the outside. No such slippage on Sunday, as everyone made it out clean, and bolted down the second straight, with Pajon in command, 3D in second, and Felicia in a solid third. That was pretty much all-she-wrote for that lap, as Felicia followed Dom down the left-line, and Mariana got a major backside push from the pro set to ink her lead, for keeps. The Sunday podium would be Pajon, Daniels and Stancil.

We’re used to seeing Dom and Mariana on the box, in one venue or another, but gotta confess that it was awesome to see Felicia there both days.

Day Two Elite Women Main (via USA BMX)

Elite Men

Coming into South Park, we expected the Elite Men turnout to be on-par with Nashville. Well, the race-day reality in Pittsburgh was just about double the fun, with 22 on Saturday (13 in Nashville).

Corben Sharrah was looking solid, both in the Friday practice and in the Saturday motos, with a 1-1 in the first two laps (the third lap doesn’t really matter anymore, as the guys with the low-points tend to save their legs for the big lap at the end). But there was no doubt that Corben was there to win. GT Teammate Mike Day was also solid in the motos with his own pair of aces, and Crupi Kiwi, Kurt Pickard, was here for some pre-London laps, and turned a 1-1-1 in the Saturday motos, before crashing in the Semis with Barry Nobles in the last turn.

Kyle Bennett was on a new Redline, in hometown ORP threads, after parting ways with GHP last month…and Tyler Faoro was keeping a solid pace for the Profile pit, rockin’ the Phoenix frame, with a 2-2-3 in the prelims.

A big part of the Saturday Elite Men’s story was written in the Semis, as Justin Posey, in his third Elite start, bested some name-brand talent to make it in to his first Elite Men main event in the third spot. In the second rack, Barry Nobles went-for-broke in a dive for the final qual spot in the last turn, as mentioned above, and it could have turned out boom or bust. Unfortunately for our friend in DK green, it was bust this time. Pickard and Tommy Zula were down like calves at a rodeo with BN95, and Faoro scooted inside, and on to the main event.

After the rain delay, and the opens, girls and cruisers, the Elite Men were on-course. Corben was out of lane one, Faoro out of seven and Denzel Stein’s Redline out of of five. At the second jump, Denzel was a wheel ahead of Corben, who was blazing up the inside. And normally, the inside would be the place to be. Only, this time, Corben clipped a “corner cube” (fka hay bale), and laid it down right then and there. Denzel was already on a strong outside-path out of the turn, even before that, and railed turn one, to come out way-in-the-lead. Going in, Donny Robinson was the third man in, but the second man down in the Corben crash, leaving Posey to take up the two-spot momentarily… but his back tire broke loose a bit from the carnage. That stutter left Faoro a crank or two to get ahead of JP, and that was the race. On the podium was Stein for Redline, Faoro for Profile/Phoenix and Posey for Dan’s Comp. Corben’s shot at his first Elite win would have to wait another 24 (no career-number pun intended), if it was to be at all.

Day One Elite Men Main (via USA BMX)

Sunday was a tad cooler than day one, and even a few degrees, when you’re in the triple-digits makes a difference.

Sunday’s Elite motos saw two 1-1-1s, which we always love to see. Josh Meyers got his Ssquared to the front all three times, as did Corben Sharrah’s GT. Mike Day and Tommy Zula were fifth in the semis, leaving them to look to Rockford for their next shot at the gate of eight.

In the Sunday main event, Corben came out of gate one again, and had Josh just to his left. Faoro was in eight and Weston Pope was out of five. You can’t EVEN call a first jump leader in this class, and even looking at a freeze-frame at the crest of the second jump, it was four-abreast. So much so, that we could not even call a leader. Soon after, though, Corben emerged as the leader, with Josh on his outside chainstay. Carlos Oquendo was tucked in the third spot into turn one, with Weston looking for daylight on the outside. As the pack thundered into the third straight, it was Corben and Josh solidly in the 1-2, but Weston had passed Oquendo and was making tracks on Yvan LaPraz, who had owned third place down the second straight. Weston had a great trip over the pro set, and aimed inside on Yvan into the last turn, where he slipped under, then ahead of him. And that was the Sunday podium! Corben Sharrah had his elusive first Elite win, Josh Meyers was on the box in second and Weston Pope with a well-fought third.

Day One Elite Men Main (via USA BMX)

And as pumped-up as the elite classes were, there was equal adrenaline among the others.

—Mike Carruth

Links

USA BMX Stars & Stripes Nationals – Saturday Photos

USA BMX Stars & Stripes Nationals – Sunday Photos





Speedco Top Story, Presented by Speedco Bicycles

Pajon to Carry Flag for Colombia

June 28, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Mariana Pajon to Carry Flag at London Opener

From German Medina’s Twitter: BMXer Mariana Pajon will carry the flag for her home country of Colombia in the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympic Games on July 27. Exciting that BMX Racing is getting some “front & center” attention. We’re big Mariana fans over here, so we’ll have our TiVO set.

La bicicrossista!

Follow @German_Medina

Pajon Finds the Answer

March 27, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Mariana Pajon Joins with Answer BMX

Ahead of this week’s Chula Vista Supercross, Answer BMX announced today that reigning Elite Women’s World Champion and Olympic favorite, Mariana Pajon from Colombia will blast down the SX hill on their wildly-popular Dagger carbon fork, and other Answer components.

Natarsha Williams Birk, Answer BMX Sponsorship Manager said, in a release:

I’ve been a fan of Mariana, and her amazing riding skills ever since I first saw her race as a young girl. Even when I was competing myself as an Elite Woman, I would make it a point to go watch her motos…and that was way back when she was just 10 or 11 years old. I’m thrilled to have her as part of our family here at Answer and can’t wait to watch her go after more titles.”

BMXNEWS.COM will be in Chula Vista , taking in the Thursday Supercross practice…and we look forward to bringing you the first photos of Mariana and her W1 skying over the first jump rockin the Daggers.

Red Bull Co-Founder Dies in Thailand

March 19, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Red Bull Co-Founder Chaleo Yoovidhya Dies

Chaleo Yoovidhya, co-founder of energy drink giant Red Bull died of natural causes this past Saturday in his native Thailand. He was 88.

Mr. Yoovidhya founded the company with Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz in 1987, and grew the brand from zero to selling a reported 4.4 billion cans last year, in 162 countries.

Red Bull remains a privately-held company, and has made its founders multi-billionaires. Yoovidhya was worth an estimated five billion dollars at the time of his death (making him the third wealthiest person in Thailand)

The brand has been involved in BMX Racing for several years, through its “Red Bull Helmet” sponsorship of top athletes such as Mike Day and Corben Sharrah in the US, and Mariana Pajon and Sifiso Nhlapo in Colombia and South Africa, respectively.

In the early 1960s, Yoovidhya developed a beverage containing sugar, caffeine and other ingredients, called “Krating Daeng,” which means “red bull” in his native Thai. The drink became a hit with truck drivers, construction workers and others who needed to sustain performance on long shifts. Mateschitz discovered Krating Daeng on a trip to Asia in the early 1980s, declared it a magical cure for his chronic jetlag, and the two soon formed a partnership to market the drink, beginning in Austria in 1987.

The partners invested $500,000 each to establish a 49/49 ownership in the new company, with the remaining 2 percent going to Yoovidhya’s son, Sarawut.

Mateschitz runs the company, based in Fuschl am See, Austria, and it is expected there will be no material change to operations resulting from Mr. Yoovidhya’s death.

“The Nation” newspaper reported that Mr. Yoovidhya was married twice and had 11 children.

—Mike Carruth

Links

Video: Red Bull – How an Empire Was Created




This article appeared as the Speedco Top Story on March 19, 2012


Speedco Top Story, Presented by Speedco Bicycles

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