“She Races” – The State Of WMX

“She Races” is a weekly feature presented by Blustarr.com that covers the world of women’s motocross racing both on the track and behind the scenes.

The State Of WMX
By: Lee Bowers

For as long as we can remember, fit and athletic women have been on the podium at motocross, Arenacros,s and X Games events holding trophies, gold medals and other prestigious awards. But the good news is that instead of handing the hardware over to the boys wearing not much more than bikini tops, women are actually busting out whips off 75’ ramps and winning X Games Gold medals. We’re entering a very exciting time for women in all aspects of the sport and “She Races” is here to provide you a front row seat to all the action.

This week the media, as well as many of the online motocross communities, have been buzzing with chatter about women in the world of motocross racing. Much of this dialogue was brought about by WMX/Arenacross/FMX rider Vicki Golden’s gold medal in Women’s Moto-X and bronze in Best Whip at the 2013 X Games.

As we reported last week in “She Races”, Golden’s 2013 Gold marks her third win in this prestigious invitational event, which is a feat no other woman has accomplished. But what really raised the bar was the bronze Golden won in the Best Whip competition against the men. While Moto-X is a traditional race with a start gate and the winner determined by finishing order, the Best Whip contest is judged by actual X Games fans who vote for their favorite whip via Twitter. While even Golden herself thought her final whip in the competition wasn’t her best, it was still impressive. The fans not only loved what they saw, they also showed their support for her by voting en-mass, landing her on the podium as the first women ever to win a medal in the male-dominated Best Whip event. Because it was a fan vote, this was a huge indicator of how many of the viewers love watching women compete.

We think this is big and positive news for women competing in all aspects of the sport for a number of reasons. While we all agree the X Games is a entertaining weekend of competition, if you dig a little deeper, its content and events are also a barometer of what the networks and the fans think is cool and exciting to watch. The X Games were created by ESPN as “made for TV event” with the goal of engaging one of advertising’s most lucrative demographic age groups: young, brand-loyal viewers with discretionary income (theirs or their parent’s). The inclusion of women (who typically outspend men in the same age category 3-1) in the events increased the female viewership to a surprising 43% by the mid to late 2000s*. At which time the X Games added Women’s Moto-X (with the help of WMA president Miki Keller) to keep the growing TV audience entertained with women’s events. And while the female viewership enjoyed watching some of the men’s events, most of the women were actually tuning in to watch the girls compete which was huge for ESPN because by creating the opportunity to sell ads targeted at women, it opened up a whole new advertising revenue stream.

Motocross has always been a family sport and I believe we’ll see the female sector of the sport continue to grow as more motocross, arenacross, FMX and other off road events include women’s classes where the next generation of fast & fearless female riders can compete and their fan base can watch from the stands.

2013 WMX Triple Crown
By: Sarah DiMare

This year’s WMX Triple Crown had a strong international turnout and included some of the best tracks on the circuit. The series kicked off at Hangtown before heading east for the final two rounds at High Point and Southwick. The final round at Southwick was very special in that it provided one last opportunity to race at one of the most historic and unique tracks on the national tour.

Courtney Duncan of New Zealand dominated her first-ever WMX event with a convincing 1-1 finish, taking the overall at the Hangtown National.

The new Triple Crown format brought out some of the fastest women on the planet, including racers from Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. Throughout the series there were exciting moments, including the debut of amazingly fast new riders, along with the return of some familiar faces we hadn’t seen in a while.

Newcomer Courtney Duncan of New Zealand dominated her first-ever WMX event with a convincing 1-1 finish winning the overall at the Hangtown National. Although Courtney was a former Junior New Zealand Champion this was her first WMX Pro race, only 17, and on a 125 two-stroke against the older more experienced riders on 250 four strokes. It was an exciting way to start the WMX season and a bit of a surprise to everyone. And the competition wasn’t easy. With Jessica Patterson and Sayaka Kaneshiro, two of the series favorites to compete against, Duncan had her work cut out for her.

Moto One: Duncan came out strong with Patterson and Kaneshiro battling with her until Patterson’s mechanical problems forcing her to pull off. Kaneshiro and Tricker continued to battle Duncan, but neither could catch the Kiwi.

Moto Two: Patterson was determined to make up for the unfortunate showing in moto one. She held the early lead, but it wasn’t long until Duncan passed her for the lead and left Patterson to take second place, followed by Kaneshiro for third. The top five was rounded out by Taylor Higgins and Jacqueline Strong.

Hangtown Women’s Motocross Results 2013
1. Courtney Duncan (Yamaha) 1-1
2. Sayaka Kaneshiro (Honda) 2-3
3. Taylor Higgins (Honda) 4-4
4. Mackenzie Tricker (Yamaha) 3-6
5. Jacqueline Strong (KTM) 6-5
6. Alexah Pearson (KTM) 5-8
7. Mariana Balbi (Kawasaki) 7-7
8. Sara Pettersson (KTM) 8-9
9. Hailey Larson (Honda) 9-10
10. Jessica Patterson (Yamaha) 30-2

Women’s Motocross Triple Crown Points 2013
1. Courtney Duncan, 50
2. Sayaka Kaneshiro, 42
3. T-bug Higgins, 36
4. Mackenzie Tricker, 35
5. Jacqueline Strong, 31
6. Alexah Pearson, 29
7. Mariana Balbi, 28
8. Sara Pettersson, 25
9. Hailey Larson, 23
10. Jessica Patterson, 22

Round two of the Women’s Pro Motocross Triple Crown was held at High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, PA. Courtney Duncan had quickly become a fan favorite after her convincing 1-1 finish at Hangtown, however, she was unable to race the second round because of a broken wrist. This left the championship points battle wide open for the other riders.

When Courtney Duncan withdrew from the series with a broken wrist, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Sayaka Kaneshiro inherited the championship lead.

Moto One: Tricker led the majority of the race with Patterson in close pursuit. Patterson pushed hard and was able to take it up a notch and pass Tricker. An epic battle ensued between the two, and Tricker retook the lead. Not long after the pass Tricker hit something on the track and tore her ACL, which allowed both Patterson and Kaneshiro to pass her just before the checkered flag.

Moto Two: With Tricker now injured, the battle between Patterson and Kaneshiro was on. Sayaka had come to High Point second in points and with Duncan out, knew that she would have the opportunity to be standings leader as long as she could land on the podium. Patterson came into the round tenth in points and was looking for redemption for her opening round struggles. When all was said and done, Patterson finished first and was followed by Kaneshiro. Taylor Higgins also showed she was a force be reckoned with, and took third in the second moto.

By the end of the second round, Kaneshiro had taken over the points lead, while Patterson had worked up to second and was tied with Taylor Higgins. A mere 14-points separated Kaneshiro from Patterson and Higgins, which lead to an exciting finale between the at final round of the series.

High Point Women’s Motocross Results 2013
1. Jessica Patterson (Yamaha) 1-1
2. Sayaka Kaneshiro (Honda) 2-2
3. Taylor Higgins (Honda) 5-3
4. Sara Pettersson (KTM) 6-4
5. Marissa Markelon (KTM) 7-5
6. Jacqueline Strong (KTM) 4-9
7. Sade Allender (Honda) 9-7
8. Amanda Brown (Honda) 8-8
9. Lindsey Palmer (Kawasaki) 11-6
10. Shelby Rolen (Yamaha) 10-11

Women’s Motocross Championship Points 2013
1. Sayaka Kaneshiro, 86
2. Jessica Patterson, 72
3. Taylor Higgins, 72
4. Jacqueline Strong, 61
5. Sara Pettersson, 58
6. Mackenzie Tricker, 55
7. Courtney Duncan, 50
8. Amanda Brown, 44
9. Lindsey Palmer, 42
10. Sade Allender, 41

Just days before the WMX final at Southwick, Jessica Patterson, one of the most accomplished women in motocross, announced she would be retiring from the professional circuit after the final race of the 2013 WMX Triple Crown that weekend.

Moto One: With a championship on the line, many expected Patterson to charge. And she definitely did. The defending champion led the entire race and kept the moto just out of Tricker’s reach. Jacqueline Strong had her best finish of the season, and rounded out the podium with a third place finish.

Moto Two: The second moto of the day was almost symbolic. Just as the women lined up for their final moto, the sky darkened and began to dump rain. The storm didn’t did not stop the women from performing their best for in the final moto of the season. Patterson again took the lead, with Tricker not far behind. The pursuit lasted the entire moto, but Tricker was unable to take the lead from Patterson. Kaneshiro finished in third place.

After a dramatic year, the final season of her storied career, Jessica Patterson claimed her seventh WMX championship.

By the end of the final moto, Patterson had earned her seventh career championship in the women’s pro nationals and retired from her career at the top and on her terms.The final points standings revealed how close the competition was with only two points separating Patterson and Kaneshiro, and only one point separating third place Taylor Higgins and fourth place Mackenzie Tricker.

Dramatic WMX seasons like this year’s Triple Crown, along with the media coverage it generated, help explain why tracks across the country are seeing more women buying bikes and learning to ride. They have filled the gates at their local motocross tracks each weekend and are excited that maybe they’ll get their chance at WMX title.

Southwick Women’s Motocross Results 2013
1. Jessica Patterson, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (1-1)
2. Mackenzie Tricker, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha (2-2)
3. Sara Pettersson, Kumla, Sweden, KTM (4-4)
4. Sayaka Kaneshiro, Osaka, Japan, Honda (7-3)
5. Lindsey Palmer, Conifer, Calif., Kawasaki (8-5)
6. Taylor Higgins, Mesquite, Texas, Honda (6-8)
7. Marissa Markelon, Ansonia, Conn., KTM (5-12)
8. Sade Allender, Sanford, Maine, Honda (12-7)
9. Brianna DeGray, Springfield, Mass., Honda (10-9)
10. Amanda Brown, Baltimore, Md., Honda (14-6)

Women’s Final Motocross Championship Points 2013
1. Jessica Patterson, Tallahassee, Fla., 122
2. Sayaka Kaneshiro, Osaka, Japan, Honda, 120
3. Taylor Higgins, Mesquite, Texas, Honda, 100
4. Mackenzie Tricker, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha, 99
5. Sara Petterson, Kumla, Sweden, KTM, 94
6. Jacqueline Strong, Sedona, Ariz., KTM, 81
7. Lindsey Palmer, Conifer, Calif., Kawasaki, 71
8. Amanda Brown, Baltimore, Md., Honda, 66
9. Sade Allender, Sanford, Maine, Honda, 64
10. Marissa Markelon, Ansonia, Conn., KTM, 55