Frid’Eh Update #4 Presented by 100%
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
Hello, and welcome to Week #4 of the DMX Frid’Eh Update Presented by 100%. We’ll try to do our best, but I have spent the past two days driving from Ontario to Aspen, Colorado, for the 2018 Winter X Games, so I’m on the ragged edge, to say the least.
Week #4 belongs to the California native who now calls Florida home. Mike Alessi came up through the American amateur ranks like a house on fire. I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate cliché, but I’m going with it. He won everything is sight and had a historic charge through the big Amateur Nationals, battling Ryan Villopoto every step of the way.
Mike has chosen his familiar #800 as his Canadian career number, so he will be easy to spot again this summer. However, what team he’ll be riding for is the worst kept secret in the industry, and we both attempt to continue the vagueness in this interview.
Direct Motocross: Hello, Mike. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. First off, congratulations on the announcement of your first child coming, a baby girl. Let’s start by reflecting on your 2017 season. You finished 4th in the series. How would you sum up your summer in Canada?
Mike Alessi: Hey, Billy. Thank you. The wife and I are very excited for this next chapter. I had a great time racing this past summer. I did something different and drove my RV to all the East Coast rounds. It was a lot of fun to see more of Canada and not just fly in and out every weekend.
What was the highlight of your season?
I would say the highlight of my season was winning Gopher Dunes. As you know, I was robbed of a win there back in 2014 when I ran out of gas. I have always enjoyed that track and to win there was a great feeling not only for me but for my team as it was their first win in 3 years.
We hit a couple new tracks last season. What did you think of Prince George and Bon Conseil?
I really enjoyed Prince George. I thought the uphill start and different elevations on the track made for great racing. Bon Conseil was also a fun track. I felt the track itself was a great addition to the series. I really liked the big jumps they had on the track.
You mention you had fun traveling the country. What was the highlight of your sightseeing?
I would say the entire trip was the highlight. I’ve always heard great things about Canada but never experienced anything but airports, hotels and race tracks. To take the summer and drive from race to race was something I will never forget.
What did you get up to when the season ended?
After the season was over, I came home to a hurricane coming through Florida. I’ve never been home in Florida while one came through so it was an experience. We didn’t have power for 4 days. Aside from that, just taking time off and enjoying being home. I don’t get to do that very often.
You’re obviously not racing Supercross. Do you miss it and why exactly don’t we see you out there anymore?
I decided at this point in my career it would be better for me to slow down a bit and take some time to let my body heal. We athletes put our bodies through a vigorous training regimen. After so many years it takes a toll and sometimes you just need to step back so you can come back even stronger.
Who do you say wins the 450 Supercross title in 2018?
I honestly don’t know who is going to win. It’s 3 rounds in and has already been crazy! I’m excited to see what happens.
OK, so it hasn’t been announced officially, but I think we all know you’re coming back to Canada and racing a green bike. Can you tell us about this deal? When did you start talking with them etc?
Am I allowed to say I plead the fifth?
(Apparently, yes) It’s hard to believe, but you’re getting older now. Are you going to finish your career in our great country or will there be another run south of the border?
At this point in my career I am getting older and am enjoying racing in Canada. I always told myself I would race until I felt I was no longer competitive or it wasn’t fun for me any longer. I am still having a great time so who’s to say what the future holds for me and how much longer I plan to go.
You’re obviously after a title, how many more years will you chase that?
I just want to be competitive and fighting for that top spot every weekend.
You seem to be really good at helping younger riders at the track. What do you see yourself doing after you finish racing?
I really enjoy being around the fans and trying my best to help out any way I can at the track. I want to give back to them for all of the support they have always given me. I’m not sure what I plan to do after racing. My entire focus as of right now is racing and being competitive.
Are you doing the entire Rockstar Triple Crown series?
At the moment I do not have plans to compete in the Rockstar Triple Crown. If that changes, you will just have to wait and see.
How is the testing and training going?
I took a good couple months off and am just starting to get back into the swing of it. I had a nice little rest and am ready to be better than ever.
OK, see you up in Canada soon. Good luck with the rest of your preparation. Who would you like to thank?
At the moment I’d like to thank you, Billy, for the interview (Laughs).
Like I said, we all know where he’s going and who he’s riding for, but we’ll do our do diligence and wait for the official press release to come out…
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Winter X Games
Hey, everyone, Happy Friday. There is a lot going on this time of the year. Let’s start off with the big one. Winter X Games is happening this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. In the Snow BikeCross event, we have defending Gold medalist Brock Hoyer, 2017 Bronze medalist Cody Matechuk, fellow Canadians Yanick Boucher, Mark Wilson, and Nathan Bles. Add in a few big names like Josh Hill, Axell Hodges, and Ryan Vilopotto, and you have a pretty exciting event.
Obviously Hoyer is the favourite, but I do believe the rest of the field has really stepped up their games. I think Hoyer will be in the mix but I think a dark horse will get the win. I’m going with Cody Matechuk for the Gold. This guy flies and I believe he is underrated. Anytime you get this much star power at an event as big as Winter X, it can’t be anything but good for the sport.
And in even bigger news… The 7c is returning to Winter X. Yes, you read it correctly. The #7c of Blair Morgan will make his return. Blair is one of the pioneers of Winter X Games and I couldn’t be happier to see him back in action. Win, lose or draw, this will be a huge event, and as a long time ‘Superman’ fan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blair kill it.
Andre Laurin and his amazing gang, Steve Simms, Jason Burke, and Josh Cox to name a few went above and beyond to make this special event happen. Thankfully, the bossman Billy will be there to capture all of the amazing events.
Not only do we have Winter X to keep us busy, we also have Round 4 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series from Glendale, Arizona. This past week was the first of 3 “Triple Crown” events, where each class runs 3 shortened main events and crown an overall winner by Olympic scoring. I, myself, was 100% not a fan.
The plan was that the shorter races level the playing field. Well, that made for some boring racing. Everyone can sprint. So basically whoever got the start was going to win. It was too short to allow the top riders make their way into the lead. If you check the results, you will see for the most part that the guys who got good starts were able to hold onto position, but as the main events got longer, they just didn’t have enough to stay up front.
I disagree with the reasoning behind this, as the top guys are the top guys for a reason. They either have more talent, or put in more work blah blah blah. But it’s true. And I don’t know about you, but I love seeing the youngsters in the heat races. And you can ask our good buddy Cade Clason how exciting the LCQ’s are.
I may be old school, but the old program was good. The attendance keeps growing every year. If it’s not broken, why change it so drastically.
Anyway, Eli Tomac was back, and in a big way. After sitting out a round, the #3 returned and claimed the overall. No, he wasn’t back up to full speed, but he did enough for the win. I can see the bandwagon filling back up, but pump the brakes a bit, folks. He’s in a deeper hole than last season, and although Ryan Dungey is retired, I feel that Jason Anderson is way more dangerous.
Jason is younger than Ryan, has more raw speed, and an aggressive rider. Where Ryan would settle and play it safe, El Hombre is going to send it and make rough passes. But, it’s a double edge sword. It may win him the title, but it could also cost him the title. He has ruffled a lot of feathers with clean but very aggressive passes over the years, so I can’t see guys like Cole Seely or Vince Friese giving him an easy pass.
We are back to normal this weekend, and we have a few bodies back. Justin Bogle and Jake Weimer will make their ’18 season debut, and Benny Bloss will return to action after going down hard at the first round.
Getting riders off the injured list is always great news, but maybe not for some fill in riders. Fortunately for Malcolm Stewart, his fill in ride with the JGR Suzuki squad will last at least one more weekend. Hopefully, without the “Triple Sprint Format,” we will see some better racing.
Here are my predictions for Glendale.
1st Jason Anderson
2nd Eli Tomac
3rd Ken Roczen
4th Justin Barcia
5th Cole Seely
In 250 West action there is just too much talent to make a mistake. It has veterans expected to win, guys on the brink of winning, and rookies that could squeak one out with the right luck. Poor Justin Hill. The defending champion is really struggling out there. Last season this guy was unstoppable, even with a bad start, but he can’t seem to get going this season even with a good start. I think there has to be an injury, but nothing has come out yet. Let’s hope he figures it out soon.
Adam Cianciarulo was always the “can’t miss kid” on little bikes, but he has struggled to stay healthy since turning Pro. I’ve always been impressed with his riding and attitude, and I would like to see him win some races. He impressed last week with his toughness after absolutely weeding himself early on. I was shocked to see him line up, but even more shocked to see him almost win the final main event.
Joey Savatgy will be tough to beat, along with Aaron Plessinger and Shane McElrath, but that makes it just that much more exciting.
Here are my predictions for the 4th round of the 250 West.
1st Adam Cianciarulo
2nd Aaron Plessinger
3rd Joey Savatgy
4th Shane McElrath
5th Mitchell Oldenburg
That is it for me this week. Good luck to everyone racing, and we will see you next week. Try and stay warm and #smileforBC, #liftwithscott and #4estrella.
Well, I made it to Aspen, Colorado, late last night. Believe it or not, there really isn’t any snow down in the valley…or up in the mountains, for that matter. They did get about 3 inches of fresh snow and it was pretty windy this morning, so they’ve been forced to cancel some events and reschedule them.
As I sit here in the media tent eating home made enchiladas and soup, Canadian Josh Penner is getting his practice runs as an alternate in the Freestyle Sled competition. They were set to go earlier but were postponed again, so I came in to eat.
I wandered around the pits to see which Canadians I could find and bother. Here’s what I got:
Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross Championships Schedule Change
From the Future West Moto Facebook page:
ATTENTION FWM AX RIDERS
The Kawasaki Canada Arenacross Championship finale will now be in Chilliwack on Saturday, February 3, after racing.
Prizing, Food, and Trophies!
Let’s go racing!
We’re going to have to cut this week a little short. The Snow BikeCross guys are all heading up to the hill for practice. I can here the bikes behind me. There’s a weird separation between the motor fans and the gravity fans here in Aspen.
I’ll be sure to grab some photos and video of practice and post them up on the site.Have a great weekend, everyone.