Updated: Oct 4, 2022
The '22 Pro title chase is starting to wind down; as this Utah weekend would be two of the last 8 available scores in the regular season. ...and all of the top No.1 title contenders were present and accounted for.
Coming into this weekend, here's how the points stood:
1 JOSHUA MCLEAN (Australia)1754
3 NIEK KIMMANN (Netherlands)1396
4 CAMERON WOOD (USA)1270
5 CORBEN SHARRAH (USA)1254
Your current points leader - Aussie Josh McLean was feelin' good, once U.S. customs allowed him back in the States, and he and his Full Tilt-equipped Radio would add two more wins to his Pro standings - wins #5 and #6. If not for a 6th place in Ohio, this would've been a 5-in-a-row win streak. Instead, it's a 3-fer streak. To get the job done, McLean had to hold off the Olympic gold medalist - Niek Kimmann, who scored a third on Friday and took second on day-2.
In the Pro ladies ranks, points coming in to Utah were TIGHT! It is still anybody's race; especially since current Pro points leader Laura Smulders decided to skip this weekend, and recover after The Worlds. That was good news for the U.S. women, who came out in full force, to bump up their current status in USA BMX's title-chase.
1 LAURA SMULDERS (Netherlands)1544
2 DALENY VAUGHN (USA)1339
4 LAUREN REYNOLDS (Australia)934
5 MOLLY SIMPSON (Canada)924
10 ASHLEY VERHAGEN (USA)512
NINE-time National No.1 Pro Woman Alise Willoughby had told us in Nashville that the title-chase wasn't over; and after adding two more wins to her points this weekend, the points gap between her and Smulders just got a lot closer. With Louisville (big hill), Oldsmar (big hill) and Bakersfield (regular hill) left on the schedule, and Smulders confirmed to be at those races, the skillet is going to be getting HOTTER as the 100 day countdown to Grands is about to start.
Will Alise earn her 10th National No.1 title in Tulsa, this Thanksgiving? Judging by her consistency at Grands and her decades of experiencing the pressures of The Greatest Race in Earth, we'd have to say the odds are in her favor.
Conversation overheard this weekend: Tangent's TJ Johnson: "You've been Pro for half of your Life now, right?" Alise the Beast: (who turned Pro at age 15) "...Yep."
DK's Grands-winner from 2021, Daleny Vaughn - currently seeded in the No.2 spot of points, remained consistent, while newly-crowned World Champion Felicia Stancil, only made one podium for the weekend. Ashley Verhagen, Rachel Mydock and Olivia Armstrong were all looking strong, and were consistently in the mix.
The VET Pro class continues to gain momentum, with two new arrivals deciding to join the Masters Club. Answer's multi-time NAG No.1 - Christ Sutton, and head-honcho of JET Racing - Jake Peebles, both made the switch to Vet. ...which makes the 30+ Pro ranks even more exciting. At the same time, the battle for the No.1 Vet title just got a tad harder. About the only hold-out now for turning Vet is seasoned pro Corey Reid ...and he should be coming around pretty soon.
With only three more Pro races left after this weekend in Utah, the points coming in to Salt Lake City looked like this:
1 BARRY NOBLES (USA)2029
2 JONATHAN SUAREZ (Venezuela)1475
3 JEFF UPSHAW (USA)1206
4 EMILIO FALLA (Equador)EXPIRED
5 SERGIO SALAZAR (Colombia)835
As you can plainly see, The Alabama Slamma' - Barry Nobles, has a pretty solid lead over the current reigning Champ - The Mosquito, who is followed closely by Idaho's new favorite pro, Jeffrey Upshaw. All three were at Rad Canyon, ready to add some scores to their current positions.
Barry, who has always thrived in Utah, and loves layin' down some stylish whips or flatties down the jump-filled second straight, would be the One to beat this weekend - and chances of that were lookin' slim. Nobles is on a roll right now, winning every single race since Saturday at the Legacy Nationals - including both days here in Utah. Will Barry finally get redemption from his lost No.1 Pro Cruiser title in 2011? And finally get to hoist up his second silver Cup of a National Champion, this November? We'll find out in about 110 days from now.