Blackjack Nationals - Reno race report
Around this time of the year, all of us hear a lot about Decision 2016.
Only, in the BMX World - the only thing to decide is Reno or Louisville? Indoor or outdoor? West coast or East-side? Built-track or longtime-classic course?
For those who made the choice for a west-coast indoor, custom-built track in Reno - here is what went down.
Hundreds of riders rolled into the familiar Reno Fairgrounds for yet another installment of the Blackjack Nationals; a Labor Day tradition for many BMXers. Cruising social media and talking to racers in the pits, this weekend marked anywhere from 15, 20 to 25 years in a row for some - while for plenty of others, this would be their first time to experience the hand-built coolness of Reno.
Track builder Billy Allen and his crew of motley misfits loves this arena (even though they ran a bit low on dirt and weren't able to make a decision maker as planned). The track always turns out great here and the dirt packs awesome. But Saturday, it was smooth and packed like concrete. When asked where Reno's indoor ranks among all others in the country - based on dirt-alone, Billy told us he'd put it as No.2 on the list (with Oregon topping that list). This time around, he added little subtle changes to the design. Ones that only riders would know once they've done a lap. Little stuff like the roller closer to the bottom of the hill, or the distance of backside from the last jump going into the first turn - with a drawn-out "Kenny Allen runway" where riders are having to pedal into the turn (rather than pump it). The rhythm design was also pulled out of the old-school 90's book of rhythm sections, and the jumps down the final straight were built up a bit more than usual. Classic Reno!
Turnout-wise, it looked like the BMX world was split in two, like an atom - once you remove the larger Pro turnout of Louisville, both Labor Day races were even with Ams (give or take). Team-wise, Reno saw a good portion of the FullTilt, Haro, J&R, Kuwahara, Yess (West Coast), SE Racing and Factory Supercross teams choosing Reno. ...and you can't forget the Bay Area crew from the 510 area code! Local BMX brigades Tangent~Rift, and Elite!Vendetta were also in the house and hoping to make their presence known. Watching themotos and mains, you'd definitely see your share of Haro and FullTilt'ers out front and dominating. Theorange-blur of Extreme team and flashing neon ofCruipi riders was also a common sight throughout the weekend - but it was the Haro~Promax squad who ran away with the Factory team wins and big 220+ scores.
In the girls divisions, it was surely going to be a battle of the Shriver sisters -vs- the Haro~promax dynamic duo that you recenlty read all about in the latest PULL magazine. This weekend, as they have done so many times before, Brooke Craft and Maddie DeSantis would be matched up against the super quick Shriver's. When it came time for girls mains, the ones to watch were 9, 12 and 13 girls - where the Shriver sis's on their titanium ThroDwn frames were about to do just that ... throw down!
9 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 KATJA SHRIVER, SPROCKET CYCLES, LAKEWOOD, CA
- 2 CHRISTINA CUNNINGHAM, FACTORY YESS, HOLLISTER, CA
- 3 ALEXIS ALDEN, PAT'S 605 CYCLERY, EL MONTE, CA
- 4 CARLIE KENYON, JET RACING, REDDING, CA
- 5 ZEMIRAH PAULAZZO, BLACK BOX/BASIC/FLY, JACKSONVILLE, OR
- 6 ASHLEY WESNER, JET RACING, CHICO, CA
- 7 LEILA SANCHEZ, TEAM CALCULATED, RIPON, CA
- 8 CAILEY PITA, GHP/REMIX, SANTA MARIA, CA
12 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 RICHELLE SHRIVER, SPROCKET CYCLES, LAKEWOOD, CA
- 2 BROOKE CRAFT, FACTORY HARO/PROMAX, LAKESIDE, CA
- 3 CASSIDY "SISSY LALA" WARNOCK, FACTORY CCH, YUMA, AZ
- 4 SARA BRENNER, BOULDER CREEK, CA
- 5 RYENN CAPITANI, FACTORY CRUPI, VACAVILLE, CA
- 6 MADISON MACIAS, FACTORY FREE AGENT, RAMONA, CA
- 7 PARIS (DIRT DIVA) SEEBOLD, TEAM CALCULATED, CORONA, CA
- 8 MARICRIS NEPOMUCENO, BROKEN SPOKE, PLACITAS, NM
13 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 ESJA SHRIVER, SPROCKET CYCLES, LAKEWOOD, CA
- 2 MADELYNN DESANTIS, FACTORY HARO/PROMAX, SIMI VALLEY, CA
- 3 GRACE PADILLA, MOM AND DAD, BUELLTON, CA
- 4 ALEXIS LEIJA, JET RACING, FERNLEY, NV
- 5 SIERRA ALTENDORF, RRP BMX GATES, EVERETT, WA
- 6 BAILEY AGINIGA, TEAM BC BMX RACING, BOULDER CITY, NV
- 7 LANEY (HURRICANE) COOPER, ALPHA FACTORY TEAM, SPARKS, NV
- 8 FAITH WILLDEN, LOOKING, PLEASANT GROVE, UT
No doubt, this would be one of the key girls classes to watch, and Craft and DeSantis would be out for redemption on Saturday and Sunday, as the race was tight for the Western Divisional title.
Of course, what many of these riders and teams came here for was to cart home a Western Divisional Finals jersey after three days of elbow-throwing, dive-bombing action. Racers brought in their best six scores from the year and added them on to their three days of Reno radicalness, to tally up the chase for Divisional Finals.
Once the mains rolled around, racers were hyped and ready to rock Reno.
Summing it all up, there was plenty of great BMX racing happening on this Labor Day weekend! No matter whether you chose Louisville or Reno, you couldn't help but be a winner either way.
But - as we are a bit biased toward the Reno indoor tradition, we'll just quote announcer Erick Grindle and state: "West Coast, Best Coast."