Four U.S. riders advance to final at BMX World Championships
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Four Team USA riders advanced to the final round at the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday. In the men’s elite final, Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz.) finished fifth overall. In the women’s race, Alise Willoughby (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif.) ended seventh and eighth overall, respectively, and Stephani Morin (Beach Park, Ill.) raced to a fifth-place finish in the junior women’s divison.
“It was an exciting day in Baku. The event proved to be action-packed and intense given the fairness of the course, and no one really had any home track advantage which made it an extremely level playing field,” said Jamie Staff, USA Cycling's Performance Director, BMX & Sprint Track. “While we didn’t get the results we had hoped for, we did have four riders make the finals. And, Alise and Corben were definitely some of the quickest riders out there today.”
Both Willoughby and Sharrah were poised to defend their world titles captured a year prior. At the BMX Velo Park in Baku, Willoughby won each of her heats to advance to the final eight. She was leading into the second turn of the final round when she crashed, eventually finishing the race in seventh place. Crain was also in contention in the final but was unable to complete the race after crashing on the third straightaway. In the men’s elite division Sharrah comfortably progressed through the elimination rounds, however his momentum was slowed in the final round and he crossed the line fifth overall.
“Corben and Alise were looking great with Alise not losing a lap through the semifinals. Brooke was also making a great comeback after taking time off from her crash last year in Papendal, and she really made her presence known. Alise was winning in the women’s final, but in the second turn, the Dutch rider, Laura Smulders, made an inside move, pushing Alise up high. Alise swung back down to countermove, but unfortunately caught Laura’s wheel and went down. Brooke was in fourth at the time, and the crash disrupted her momentum, causing her to get caught up with another rider and crash on the third straight,” Staff said of the final rounds. “In the men’s final, Corben unfortunately miss-timed the start and lost momentum out of the gate.”
Women’s elite racing also saw both Dani George (Palmdale, Calif.) and Mika Shaw (Bailey, Colo.) advance to the quarterfinals. Jared Garcia (Victorville, Calif.) narrowly missed qualifying for the men’s elite semifinals, while Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.) and Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif.) advanced to the knockout rounds before their race day came to a close.
It was a Dutch sweep of the women’s elite podium as sisters Laura and Merel Smulders finished first and second. Sylvain Andre from France, the 2017 silver medalist, claimed gold a year later and took home the men’s elite rainbow jersey in Baku.
Morin, the 17-year-old reigning U.S. junior champion, made a mark in her first World Championships by advancing to the final round and finishing fifth overall in a field of more than 30 riders. In the junior men’s races, both Jesse Welch (Perris, Calif.) and Bryant White (Lakeside, Calif.) made it into the quarterfinals. Dena Dawson (Bradenton, Fla.) fell shy of advancing to the women’s junior elimination rounds.
“Stephani’s fifth-place finish was a nice surprise. This was her first World Championships, and along with that comes a lot of pressure – she definitely rose to the occasion,” Staff said of the junior racer. “The junior men’s races saw Bryant and Jesse get their first taste of what racing is like in the Championship class. I was impressed with their riding and they both have a lot of potential.”
Earlier in the week, USA Cycling BMX assistant coach Tyler Brown claimed the gold medal in the Masters division of the UCI BMX World Championships Challenge and Masters class races. Overall, Team USA led all countries by winning eight total gold medals in Challenge and Masters racing, which included riders competing across categories ranging from 5-6 year-olds to over 50.
A total of 78 riders competed in the men’s elite races at the 2018 UCI BMX World Championships, 40 in the women’s elite division, 56 in men’s juniors, and 33 in the women’s junior races. The world-class track in Baku was used for the 2015 European Games, and last year it was upgraded to meet current UCI standards.
TEAM USA 2018 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
WOMEN - ELITE
7. Alise Willoughby (Chula Vista, Calif.), 1:50.246 (+1:14.556)
8. Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif.)
27. Mika Shaw (Bailey, Colo.)
28. Dani George (Palmdale, Calif.)
MEN - ELITE
5. Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz.), 38.091 (+6.615)
19. Jared Garcia (Victorville, Calif.)
29. Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.)
34. Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif.)
WOMEN - JUNIOR
5. Stephani Morin (Beach Park, Ill.), 41.980 (+3.942)
28. Dena Dawson (Bradenton, Fla.)
MEN - JUNIOR
19. Bryant White (Lakeside, Calif.)
26. Jesse Welch (Perris, Calif.)
Complete results are available HERE.
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