Posts Tagged ‘Motocross News’
Josh Clark is turning pro this weekend at Southwick. Paul Buckley Photo.
Up and coming New England expert Josh Clark, 17 of Franklin, Connecticut, has recently been given a two race support ride from Warthog Racing for the Southwick and Steel City Nationals. Josh is one of the most talented and hardest working riders in New England and is hot off a successful week at the Loretta Lynn's / Air Nautiques Amateur Motocross Championships and a dominant day at the Unadilla Amateur Summer Classic.
Josh is ready to move up to the next step in his motocross career and this support from Warthog Racing and Scott Kandel is just what Josh needs to make a successful transition from the amateur motocross ranks to the highly competitive national scene.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmy Decotis for RacerXOnline.com's Privateer Profile column. Jimmy hails from Peabody, Massachusetts and is one of the fastest riders to come out of New England in a long time. He is a very hard working and dedicated rider who has been putting in some extrodinary results in his first few national rounds. He is grateful for those who have helped him accomplish what he has so far, yet he has a clear vision of what the future holds for him.
“I just want to keep on training during the week. I want to do it kind of how Dowdy did. I want to keep racin
g until I'm… well, I can't say until I'm 40, because that's a long time away, but just keep on riding and doing my thing. Hopefully, I'll stay healthy and go as long as I possibly can, and when I'm done with the nationals I'll still be right there doing local stuff. I'm planning on doing riding schools when I get older, so that will be good. It’s something to look forward to in the future.”
February 24th, 2009 • Comments Motocross News, My Thoughts
Tags: Backflip, Caleb Wyatt, FMX, Freestyle Motocross, Jeremy Lusk, Metal Mulisha, Motocross News, My Thoughts, Scott Murray, Travis Pastrana
Tragically, on February 10th, 2009, freestyle motocross star Jeremy Lusk passed away due to head injuries after a failed heart-attack backflip attempt. Lusk was a star in the FMX world and a member of the renowned Metal Mulisha team. The entire motocross industry was automatically sent into a sense of shock and mourning after hearing the news. As a community, we all pulled together to remember the great rider that was Jeremy Lusk.
Looking past his death, however, I believe that this incredibly tragic event is a sign to the entire freestyle motocross industry that perhaps the evolution of the stunts performed by FMX stars has gone too far. The FMX industry has been pushing the envelope for too long, and maybe it is time for something to change.
I don’t want to make the impression that the current crop of FMX tricks don’t require incredible skills, however, it has definitely gotten to the point that a rider with the guts to huck out the latest tricks will beat out a rider with serious motocross skills.
What Caused This Transition?
I believe that the backflip and subsequently the variations of the backflip are 100% responsible for the mutation of FMX from a display of skill to a display of guts. The backflip has become a necessary trick in any freestyle routine. Throwing multiple backflips and backflip variations is almost a guarantee for a good score, but if you don’t do one, despite how much skill you display in the rest of your run, your chances of a top 5 or even top 10 score are slim to none.
The backflip began as a demonstration of how skilled freestyle motocross riders have become, but it has readily transformed the sport. Now the backflip has turned into an avenue for aspiring FMX stars to be skyrocketed into fame without developing the necessary skills.
Why is This Bad for the Sport?
Obviously, this transition has been horrible for the sport of Freestyle Motocross. As the number of riders who can do a backflip has increased, more and more of the top FMX riders have become riders who are not necessarily more skilled than their competitors, but simply have more guts to, quite literally, risk their lives.
Examples of this can be seen in a very real way in the evolution of both the backflip and double backflip in freestyle motocross competitions. Arguably, the first person to ride away from a backflip in competition was Caleb Wyatt. Even as a fan of motocross in general and of FMX, I had never heard of Caleb Wyatt until he landed the first backflip. He was an absolute no one. He had not honed his skills to the level of Travis Pastrana, Mike Metzger, Brian Deegan, or any of the other old guards of FMX. He just happened to have the guys to put his life in danger time and time again in order to land the backflip.
Almost exactly the same scenario occured with the Double Backflip. While Travis Pastrana is credited
with landing the first backflip in competion, before him came “stunt man” (I do not believe he deserves the title of freestyle motocross ride) Scott Murray who attempted it multiple times, and in the process made himself and the sport of FMX look like a total joke. Skill wise he was clearly on a lower level than every other of the competitors he was riding with, yet he continuously threw himself into double backflips, constantly crashing and making FMX look more like an exhibition than a sport.
Almost all of the “old guards” of FMX will tell you that the backflip is not a necessarily hard trick. It just takes guts. As a result, many riders have begun to rise in the sport of FMX without having the right skills to put a flowing, consistent and stylish run together. This has ultimately dumbed down the sport and devalued the work all of the past stars did to make it a legitimate motocross sport.
It is a terrible tragedy, but I believe that it has taken the death of a comrade, Jeremy Lusk, into shocking the FMX world back into reality. This tragedy will, I hope, help bring FMX back to the grassroots and back to the times where skill, not bravery dominated.
What Can Bring the Sport Back?
While I do not believe that the Backflip should be banned from freestyle motocross motocross alltogether, I do believe that some serious changes must be made. While the backflip is an amazing trick and one that I believe will continue to influence the sport, I firmly believe that the influence of the backflip on the sport needs to be reduced. I am unsure of how exactly this can be accomplished, but there are a number of viable options.
Maybe the number of backflips allowed in one run should be reduced, or maybe their point value needs to be considerably reduced so that a winning run can be put together with the prescense of only one or two backflips. I believe that it needs to be possible for riders to win by displaying that they have extreme freestyle motocross skills without actually doing a backflip. Sure, it was a great way to bring the sport to the next level. But in my opinion, its value has been considerably reduced and now it much be treated like any other trick, and must not be the deciding factor in a riders run.
A more viable option, in my opinion, is to change to layout of the freestyle courses. Return the courses to primarily, or all natural terrain hits to promote the evolution of new tricks, and limit the use of the backflip. With natural hits, the riders skill becomes more important than the ability to throw useless tricks such as the backflip and the riders who truly are the best rise to the back through difficult maneuvers perfected through years of time perfecting their skills.
Various competitions have already been formed with this format, and the response has been incredible. They have allowed skilled riders to rise over lucky or brave ones and has promoted the reemergence of basic, yet skillfully complicated tricks which ruled the FMX world prior to the evolution of the backflip.
What Will I Do Until This Happens?
As a display of my disgust at the current state of the Freestyle Motocross World, I will refuse to follow the freestyle motocross community until something changes. I am sick of riders putting their lives in danger performing stunts which are not even good indicators of their skill. I want to see FMX return to the times when skill rules and talented riders rise to the top of the field.
What are your opinions regarding the current state of Freestyle Motocross? How has the death of FMX star Jeremy Lusk affected your view of the sport? Let me know in the comments!
A few weeks ago, I posted about the current state of the motocross economy. In the post, I talked about how I felt the motocross economy would crumble from the bottom up. However, it appears as if I may have been incorrect in this thought.
…Suzuki has dropped their amateur program. In the current economic climate they just couldn't justify the expense of continuing with their current business model. Basically, no more free or discounted bike deals and no more factory trackside support in the fashion they were providing it. And no more factory amateur team.
Suzuki is clearly being strongly affected by the current economy situation throughout the world, and is starting to cut expenses to survive, however, I believe that they are cutting the wrong expenses.
Amateur Riders are the Backbone of the Motocross Community
-Photo by Paul Buckley.
What Suzuki is failing to realize with this move is that the amateur riders are the backbone of the motocross community, and of their motocross business as a whole. Granted, the amateur racing team only supported a small number of elite amateur racers, the results of this decision will have a ripple effect throughout the industry. There is no denying that Ryan Villopoto has greatly affected Kawasaki's popularity, even before he turned pro. Similarly, Suzuki's upcoming amateur riders, such as Eli Tolmac, Nico Izzi, and the Trettle brothers could have potentially made Suzuki “cool” again. By completely cutting out their amateur team, these riders will almost certainly be forced to another amateur team (Kawasaki's prospering Team Green program, for example), in order to continue racing at the elite level. This, in return, will bring their present and future publicity and fan base to another manufacturer.
The transition from amateur to pro is difficult for even the most talented 16 year old amateur stars. Kawasaki Team Green has managed to make this transition easier by supporting their riders throughout the transition, so they are free of worrying about what team they will ride for. This method has worked really well for Kawasaki as it provides them with a steady stream of talented incoming ri
ders and it benefits their riders by providing them with a solid ride in one of the biggest transitions of their career. Because Suzuki has canceled their amateur racing team, they will be void of this luxury, and will have an extremely difficult time convincing amateur riders to switch from a bike they know and personnel they are friends with, to a new team with a new bike and a new group of people around them. This decision by Suzuki could potentially cost them thousands of dollars, and hundreds of wins by cutting off their steady supply of fresh pro riders.