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FEBRUARY 2 & 3, 2001


FIRSTAR CENTER, CINCINNATI, OHIO - The meandering Ohio River flows right next to the Firstar Center, which is right across the river from Kentucky. The snow on the ground reminds me of the mild SoCal weather I've grown accustomed to. With lows around 10 or 15, snow on the ground and ice everywhere, I'm really glad the riders get to ride indoors, in really good conditions. Not like back when I was jumping - both ramps went uphill, both ways, we had to walk 20 miles every day through ice and snow to get to the ramps, plus kill panthers and bears along the way. But that's not important here.

 Freestyle came to Cincinnati, and it was good. On Friday, Robert Distler showed 'em who's boss with a really rad routine.

Riders like Jones, Pastor and Bartram couldn't make it because they were working at the Winter X, jumping on snow jumps with spikes. Hopefully nobody was maimed. They were probably lucky to be out of town, since Distler was so impressive.

The three wedge to decreasing to increasing radius ramps were 75 feet from the downsides of the dirt landings and the facility was pretty cramped.


Several riders took soil samples. Robbie Wood hit the center jump slightly hot and was looping out and overjumping, hit the rear brake, which helped, but he was still looping, then he hit the front brake, which brought the rear end up a little but took away the gyroscopic stability of a spinning front wheel. He landed long and a little out of shape, the front end stuck a little, he slapped his face on the bars and stuffed through the hay bales and might have banged his forehead on a vertical pole that was bolted into the concrete floor of the arena. He had three cuts on his forehead and a massive blunt injury headache.

Tommy Barron was eliminated in practice when he overjumped and hit his face on the crossbar. His mouth went through the crossbar pad and hit the crossbar itself. His teeth went through his lip and he was cut pretty bad below his lower lip.



Jake Windham wasted no time as his routine began. He took no warm-up acceleration runs and just ripped the ramp right off the bat. That was impressive. He was looking good and solid with a conservative run and 85.5, but Drake McElroy's 85.8 took the lead. Nate Adams put together a better run with tricks like a Rodeo, a nice Superman Double Grab, a nice Lookback No Footed Nac and a Catwalk to Heel Clicker, a different combo. Dave Turner wasn't able to surpass Adams' first run, and Robert Distler's score was below Windham's.

Dustin Miller came out and threw a 90.5 to win the first round. He turned around inside the arena floor and hit the launch ramp with very little acceleration room, throwing a lookback Switchblade. Riders who don't weigh much can get away with such an attempt - riders like Miller and Tommy Clowers. Other tricks, such as a Disco No Footed Can, the ultimate Lookback Hart Attack and a Superman Double grab were too much for the field as he qualified #1 going to the final. His Lookback Hart Attack is simply the best.


Those who didn't qualify in the first round had to ride the second round. Robert Distler came out with a Crack Nac (Super Nac) to Whipped Heel Clicker. I love that trick, he throws it so well. Next was a Scorpion, which is a Hart Attack Double Grab with legs bent at the knees so the rider's feet are close to the bars, like a scorpion's tail. He repeated on one trick and hit some hay bales, but his performance scored 87.5 and was good enough to come out on top over Jake Windham (86.5) and Jimmie McGuire (86.3). Jeff Doetzer was 4th with 84.5.


Jimmie "Mullet Man" McGuire came out first, and had some good tricks, like a very extended Cliff Hanger, a Rodeo and a Hart Attack, but a few mistakes held his score to 83. He was on the Hot Seat with his Mullet hairstyle wig, flipping his hair during his interview. He said something so funny - something like "I did a pretty decent run, I made a few little mistakes, and I think I only did one Supercross Air."

"Supercross Air" meaning "Dead Sailor". The way he said it just had me cracking up. I'm still laughing about that one.

Then the reigning IFMA champion, Jake Windham, threw some tricks like a Superman Double Grab, a One Handed Superman Seat Grab and a Super Nac, making fewer mistakes and scoring 85.8.

Robert Distler came out with fists flying as he started his routine with his beautiful Super Nac to Heel Clicker, Whipped. Then it was a slow motion Stalefish to Saran Wrap. Then a No Footed Can Indian Air with his armpit on the seat. I like that, it looks better than a simple No Footed Can. Then he threw a Cordova, then a nice Candy Bar with a Look, then a nice Pendulum to No Footer. His super Whipped Nac turned some heads. Then it was a No Footed Can to Heel Clicker to One Hander Lander. He did a sick Whip Lookback, followed by the Cauliflower, which is like a Helicopter, but with crinked up legs, looking more like cauliflower than a set of horizontal blades. One more trick, then a slightly hung up Bar Hop ended his routine with a 91.5, very impressive.

Drake McElroy had some good tricks, but a Fetal Cliff Hanger to start his routine and a Bar Hop hang-up on his finisher didn't help. He scored 87.

Dave Turner was a threat when he started his run with a Sterilizer. He also did amazing tricks like a Bar Hop so extreme that he was actually sitting on the front fender. Maybe it should be called the Front Seater. His Cordova was simply the best. Anybody wanting to know what a perfect Cordova is should look at Turner. Overall his run wasn't up to Distler's though, and he scored 88.6.

Nate Adams was next, starting with a Hart Attack. It was a little sloppy, quick and he came up a little short, then threw a Rodeo, followed by a Lazy Boy, a little quick. Then it was a Superman Double Grab, followed by a 9 O'clock Crack Nac. A No Footed Can with a Look, a Fetal Cliff Hanger, a No Footed Can One Hander that was short, a below-par Super Nac and a Sterilizer with a crash at the end held him down to 86.3.

Dustin Miller is a great jumper, and his run was good. He did too many Superman variations and too many No Footed Can type variations, essentially beating up the same themes. Good tricks though. His Lookback Hart Attacks are the best in the business. He not only gets vertical like Tommy Clowers, he goes 5 degrees past vertical sometimes, with perfect Hart Attack posture like Clowers. His Switchblades are the most extreme and rotated, even farther than Clowers. He did a Quadruple No Footed Can, which should really be called a Double Pendulum, but since some people call a Triple No Footed Can a Triple Pendulum, it might get misunderstood. The No Footed Disco Can is nice. He almost pulled off the win, but his score of 90.8 kept him in the bridesmaid position behind Robert Distler.

Before Distler's run, he took his shirt off (he's been doing this lately) and threw it into the crowd. They love that. After Distler's run, he threw a few more tricks for the crowd, and on a Crack Nac that was really out there, he couldn't get back on and wound up falling to his chest on the edge of the landing. The rear tire left knobby streaks across his right pectoral and around the side, under his arm, and his entire underarm region was really red-streaked with hardcore abrasions and rubber burned into his skin. His hip bone area was all red and raw, and the streaks on his chest and underarm, plus under his entire right arm, were obviously painful. He took a big hit to his thigh, a massive charlie horse. Ah, the price of celebrity status in the jumping business.


A new day. Distler announced that he wasn't riding - still too hurt from yesterday.



It was looking like a hard contest to judge in the beginning stanza, as Dave "Slaughterhouse" Turner received 89.1, Dustin Miller took 89.3 and Nate "The Destroyer" Adams won the round with 89.5. Very tight!

Derek Burlew, new on the scene on his KX125, crashed on his final jump. He threw a One Handed Superman Seat Grab Indian Air, then when he was getting back on, his left hand missed the bars and he got draped over the bike like a wet blanket, his face landing on the bars. Entertaining, and it didn't look like he got hurt.


The 2nd round was easier to judge. Jake Windham's 85.3 wasn't enough to beat Jimmie McGuire's 86.5, but it beat Jeff Doetzer's 81.3. All three qualified for the final.

Jim McNeil ate it to end his routine. He was throwing a Hart Attack Double Grab and lost it, crashing into a wall. He was okay.


Jeff Doetzer came out first with an 85.3. Next was Jake Windham with a simple, yet solid routine. His best trick was the Kiss of Death, not as extreme as Mike Jones' KOD, but nice nonetheless. He pulled off an 87.3. Next was Jimmie McGuire. He scored between Doetzer and Windham at 86.4.

The 4th rider out was Drake McElroy. He started with a very bad ass Crack Nac. He did some good work, with a Superman Double Grab Indian Air, a high Switchblade to No Footer (two of them) and a good Cordova. He was pretty clean and scored a 90.

Dave Turner then proceeded to dominate the contest with his opening Sterilizer, then a Whipped Heel Clicker to One Handed Suicide, then a great Cordova. The ultimate! Then he did a high Superman Seat Grab Indian Air, then a high No Footed Can Indian Air with a Look. A Stork was next, then one of those Turner Bar Hops where he sits on the front fender, what I like to call the Front Seater - stunning! Then a nice Hart Attack, then a cool combo: A No Footed Can to Superman to No Footed Can. Next it was a Coffin, then a No Hander (oops), then a whip (great style) and then he attempted a Turnertable, which is a Bar Hop to Two Footed Saran, but he choked and went Bar Hop, then left leg went Saran while his right foot tried to come back Candy Bar. He lost it and splattered. He could have won the contest with his beautiful run, but the crash held him down to 88. That boy has a win coming!

With him out of the way, it was looking good for Dustin Miller. He is impressive when he turns around inside a cramped facility, where nobody else wants to try it, and he is able to accelerate and clear the center jump. It helps that he is so light, and that is a definite advantage in racing and in jumping. One cool trick he's starting to pull is a Superman Double Grab to Nothing. His routine was pretty good, and he was awarded a 90.1.

Nate Adams was last. He was looking pretty good, not only winning his qualifier, but winning the Papajohn's Pizza Big Trick Contest during intermission as well. He started with a Hart Attack, then notched it up with combinations. His 2nd trick was a Disco No Footed Can to a Heel Clicker. Then it was a Saran to Heel Clicker, then a nice Superman. Next was a Crack Nac to Heel Clicker. He did a 3/4 Cliff Hanger (not quite fully extended), then a nice Lazy Boy. Next on his trick list was a pretty Superman Double Grab, then a 9 O'clock Crack Nac. He slightly hung on his Bar Hop, then threw a No Footed Can to Saran. His Cordova was a little quick, then he ended with a Sterilizer, a ballsy end to a good run, which put him over the top with a final score of 91.5, the winner.

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