June 15, 2009
The Flip Side
And just like that, two foreign riders lead the points chase for the U.S. motocross national championship (using the word "foreign" seems kind of, well, foreign, but it stills sounds friendlier than "non-American" I suppose). This past weekend, a truly historic occasion for American professional motocross because of the tremendous live television coverage by NBC (tremendous, to me, because it was live; I have no comment on the production values yet, as I actually missed the broadcast due to the new digital tv bullshit), Australian Chad Reed and Frenchman Christophe Pourcel did the unthinkable and SWEPT both of their respective motos.
Now, how did this turn of events come to pass, only four rounds into the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, or what I like to call, LOAPMC (because as we all know, LOAP is dope)? Well, it wasn't because these professional racers who used to contest the World Championship and now battle in the American series are any better than their American counterparts. It is because motocross is hard.
Racing motocross is hard on the body, the mind, the bank account, personal relationships, and much more. It is a hard sport and sometimes even the best get hammered past the breaking point. The 2009 season, as beautiful as it has been so far, is also turning out to be particularly hard on the fastest. First, American pre-season favorite Ryan Villopoto was injured while training and is out for the season. Then American pre-season "vice-favorite" Mike Alessi got hurt training and is no longer in contention. This left the door wide open for the rest of the 450 field going into High Point, but it was Speedy Reedy who stepped through to claim the points lead.
Pourcel did not need the same opportunities to move himself into the series lead in the 250 class. The former World Champion is very fast and amazingly smooth and was widely expected to be a title contender, if not an outright favorite to win it all. But motocross has been, and continues to be, hard on Pourcel. The terrible injuries he has overcome to make it this far in his short but stellar career, coupled with his fight with a current mysterious stomach ailment, are proof of the physical and emotional toll the sport takes on those brave enough to go for it.
But motocross was even harder on American Trey Canard this weekend, who broke his wrist when he crashed out of the lead of the second 250cc moto. According to GuyB (who took the photos and wrote the story for Vital MX), Canard took the fight to Pourcel, but it was apparently not meant to be. Trey was running third in the points chase, behind the American everyone (or at least I) regarded the title favorite, Ryan Dungey.
(And motocross was hard on Josh Grant this weekend; check out this crash!)
Will 2009 witness yet another historic milestone for American motocross, with two foreign riders winning both titles? There are 16 motos to go...