By Mark Losey
The Nike 6.0 Open will go down in history as the first Dew Tour where the real battle was the riders against the weather instead of the riders against each other. Ever see a couple hundred BMXers scramble to a covered parking garage to dodge lightning? Yes, it was that bad. It would have been easy for some pros to write the weekend off and fly home early, but in a four-contest series with $75K waiting for the title winners, it was true-grit mode in Chicago. And through all of the rain, wind, and incredible riding, we spotted a few things that may have a big impact by the time the Dew Tour Championships come around.
This isn't exactly a new topic, but in Dew Tour dirt, you will feel the wrath of the judges if you don't make it to the last set, no matter how hard your first few tricks are. There were tons of good tricks that went down over the first two sets in Chicago, but if the elevated container section got the best of you, you could forget going home with any trophies. Don't take this the wrong way. A run full of x-ups will not get you on the podium either, but the riders who balance trick difficulty with full-run mentality are in the judges' favor. It never hurts to be able to pull super-hard tricks at all times, either. Just ask Brett Banasiewicz and Brandon Dosch...
Brandon Dosch Opposite 360 Lookback
Riders like Dave Mirra, Ryan Nyquist, and Daniel Dhers have been ruling for a long time, but every year a new crop of shredders steps up, and in Chicago the kids just kept coming. The one young gun that really made an impact in dirt was Brett Banasiewicz. All of BMX has watched Brett blow up over the past two years, and in Chicago he fully came into his own by taking the dirt win. Brett understands the consistency issue, but he also has some of the hardest tricks in BMX - and he's young enough to have zero fear. Some people may have never thought of Brett as a dirt rider, but now that he's sitting in first place for the year, they may want to think differently.
Everyone in BMX may have known about Brett, but Pat Casey caught a lot of people off guard in park. Pat opened a lot of eyes at the ASA Big Air Triples in Georgia a month ago, but that was nothing compared to what he laid down in Chicago. He had some of the hardest and best looking tricks of the contest, and to have the mental capacity to pull those tricks in the mix with your heroes at age 16 shows that Pat has a big future. Don't let his eighth-place finish fool you. As he gets more comfortable riding under that kind of pressure, he's going to make a lot of veterans sweat. Don't be surprised to see his placings get better as the season goes on.
After losing nearly a year to a knee injury, it was questionable whether Mike Spinner would be up to par when he returned to competition. Spinner played it safe in park qualifying and nearly missed making the finals, but he came out with a whole different attitude when the finals hit. Quad whip, 1080 turndown, 540 whip - Spinner was back in the game. Chicago's course was box jump and hip heavy, which was right up his alley, and very similar to his new backyard course. If the rest of this season's courses fit his style, we could be in for a season-long Spinner-Dhers battle like we were treated to two years ago.
That title may be a lofty claim, but Bestwick's riding in Chicago proved that no matter how many Dew Cups or other titles have his name on them, Jamie is not done. Keep in mind that Bestwick is more than twice the age of dirt winner Brett Banaziewicz, but if you think age means anything, then you obviously were not in Chicago. The hot trick right now on vert is the nac-nac and everyone has his own version; Bestwick's involves an alley-oop covering more Skatelite than you find at most skateparks - and he might be holding the seat just for fun. In no way is this a dis to guys like Chad Kagy Steve McCann, Simon Tabron and the rest of the vert field, but if Bestwick continues to ride at this level, predicting the Dew Cup Champion in Las Vegas isn't too hard. If anyone can stop Jamie it will be Kagy who simply goes balls out at all times, but he definitely has his work cut out for him.
If your familiarity with BMX pros ends with podium-only finishers, allow me to broaden your BMX horizons. While they may not be on top just yet, there is an entire army of BMX talent rising through the ranks getting ready to make a big splash.
Two riders to get familiar with are Vince Byron and Austin Coleman. Both are flat-out incredible on a park course, and seeing them in park finals all year will not be an anomaly. But the thing is, these guys also kill it on vert. Austin blasts to the moon with plenty of original tricks, and Vince is one of the new-schoolers who didn't follow the flair-tailwhip-flair model. Instead, he's got 540 variations that even the legends would be proud of (bar-catch-bar, tuck, tuck-to-bar, etc.).
A lot of the park riders also crossover into dirt, so don't be surprised to see names like Scotty Cranmer, Gary Young and Andy Buckworth show up in results lists in multiple columns.
When it comes to fresh park talent, I don't even know where to begin. The field is so packed that the park finals could be comprised of a different roster every Tour stop. One rider to keep an eye on is Andy Buckworth. Not only does he have a million tricks, but Andy also spent the winter on tour with the Nitro Circus crew in Australia, so you know the word "fear" doesn't even exist in his vocabulary.
These are only a handful of the insights we gained in Chicago, and things are sure to change over the months to come. And where some riders seem like shoe-ins for titles and others appear to be long shots, in a four-stop series, anything is possible. All I ask is that there be less lighting for the rest of the season, but that's just a personal preference...