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Thrills and spills: BMX Olympic hopefuls gather at U.S. Olympic Training Center Phillip Brents | Mon, Oct 24 2011 09:25 PM

Olympic hopefuls from around the world gathered at U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista on Oct. 1 to compete in the final round of the UCI Supercross World Cup series. While berths to the 2012 London Games were not awarded — that’s something for next May’s BMX Olympic Trials — riders did earn valuable prestige points toward that goal.

Four Americans — including men’s winner Connor Fields of Las Vegas and women’s winner Arielle Martin, an OTC resident athlete — took the post-race awards stand. Visalia’s Brooke Crain finished second in the women’s race while Denver’s David Herman was third in the men’s race.

Fields and Herman escaped a spectacular pile-up on the first turn that derailed the title hopes of 2008 Olympic gold medalist Maris Strombergs of Latvia and Lakeside’s Nic Long.

Long had tasted victory on the same course the previous September by winning the 169-deep field in the third round of the 2010 UCI Supercross World Cup Series. But what the TV cameras caught this year was something out of any rider’s worst nightmare: a crash on the first turn that sidetracked the hopes of five top riders.

Fields had the lead at the time of the crash and the 20-year-old sped to a first-place finish ahead of Dutchman Raymon van der Biezen and Denver’s Herman, both of whom had been trailing the pack and thus by-passed the course pile-up.

Still on the asphalt were Long and Strombergs, along with Jelle Van Gorkum of the Netherlands, Latvia’s Edzus Treimannis and American Barry Nobles.

Long got up to finish seventh in the marquee race behind Nobles (fourth), Van Gorkum (fifth) and Treimannis (sixth). Strombergs was eighth.

Two Americans did take the award stand after the elite men’s race but Long was expected to be one of them.

Van der Biezen expressed mixed feelings about finishing with the second-place award despite initially lagging behind in the race.

Herman, however, accepted what fortune fate presented to him.
“I’ve been in my share of those,” Herman quipped afterward.
Fields entered the finals as the overall time trials leader. “This feels a hundred times better than I could have ever imagined,” said Fields after finishing first in the 150-deep entry field.

Martin, 27, finished as the top rider among the 33 entrants in the women’s elite race.

Crain, 19, finished second in the women’s race to give the USA four award-winners on the day (out of six podium spots). Crain was the women’s time trials winner.

Martin’s win made amends for a crash in last year’s final. “It feels really great to win it on my home course,” she said, obviously beaming.

An estimated 5,000 fans took in the action on a warm October day.

Pan Am Games

Fields and Long led a 1-2 American men's finish at last weekend’s BMX finals at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Martin finished with the silver medal in the women's competition behind Colombia's Mariana Pajon.

Pajon was third at the Oct. 1 Chula Vista Supercross World Cup event.

The Pan Am Games are the second largest multi-sport event with an estimated 5,000 athletes competing in 36 different sports and nearly 400 events.

The U.S. team delegation is comprised of 627 athletes, including 346 men and 281 women. The U.S. team includes 79 Olympians and hundreds of hopefuls in training for the 2012 London Games.

Besides the three BMX medalists, the U.S. team also includes the following OTC resident athletes and frequent facility users:

Archery: Brady Ellison, Joe Fanchin, Jake Kaminski, Khatuna Lorig, Heather Koehl

Canoe/Kayak: Carrie Johnson, Maggie Hogan

Field hockey: women’s team (resident athletes), men’s team (frequent user)

Track and field: Becky Holliday, Yvette Lewis, Crystal Manning, Connie Moore, Sean Furey, Jamie Nieto, Jarred Rome, Russ Winger

Ellison, ranked No. 1 in the world, helped the U.S. recurve team capture the gold medal at the London Archery Classic, held Oct. 2-10. Joining Ellison on the winning American teram were Franchin and Kaminski. The trio finished ahead of Chinese Taipei.

The Pan Am Games serve as an Olympic qualifier for both canoe/kayak and field hockey.

The Pan Am Games are a last-chance qualifier for sprint canoe/kayak in the men’s and women’s K1 and K2 events as well as the men’s C1. Americans must win their events to qualify.

By contrast, the Pan Am Games represent a first chance to qualify for the Olympics in field hockey. The Pan Am field includes eight teams in both men’s and women’s competition, with the Pan Am champion earning an Olympic berth. Remaining teams may qualify in one of three tournaments scheduled in early 2012.

The Pan Am Games were first held in Buenos Aires in 1951. The United States has hosted two Pan Am Games: 1959 in Chicago and 1987 in Indianapolis.

The Parapan American Games will also be held in Guadalajara, starting Nov. 12.

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