Photo Report | Winter X Games | Snow BikeCross Final | Shot Race Gear
Photos and Captions by Billy Rainford
I figured a coffee shop in Breckenridge, Colorado, is as good a place to stop and write a Photo Report as any! The highly anticipated final of the inaugural Snow BikeCross races at the 2017 Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colorado, took place Friday afternoon.
Heading into the event, the name at the top of most people’s list was #2 Brock Hoyer from Williams Lake, BC. Brock is definitely a pioneer of the winter sport of snow biking and so it made sense that he should be the one to beat.
Alongside Brock, were fellow Canadians #111 Cody Matechuk and veteran #317 Reagan Sieg. Jenny Hoyer (Brock’s wife) joked before the finals that, “Snow Biking is Canada’s new hockey!” With the Canadians expected to be fighting for the podium, this made perfect sense.
However, lining up against our guys were two riders whose names could be argued are at the top of the list when “Best Overall Riders in the World” debates are had. America’s #96 Axell Hodges and #10 Colton Haaker would be in the mix to try and steal away Canada’s winter thunder.
With Buttermilk Mountain’s base at 7870 feet elevation and -15 degree Celsius temperatures, riders needed to have done their homework if they were hoping to do well, let alone make it through the 30-lap final! Brock spent two weeks training and preparing in the thin air and commented that it was actually warm compared to his home town back in British Columbia.
Here’s a look at some of the action from the final.
The riders in the 16-person final line up in order of their qualifying times. As you can see, Canadians were 1-2.
Rod Matechuk swaps the hand guards over to #111 Cody Matechuk’s race bike.
Brock gets some face time before they head to the gate…wait, there was no gate…before they head to the line.
Cody’s warm up gets some love from the TV camera.
There’s no arguing #96 Axell hodges’ skills on a bike, but how would he do in race conditions?
#44 Nolan Heppner won his X Games qualifier so we knew he was going to be fast.
Canada’s #317 Reagan Sieg warms his mitts.
Canadian Josh Penner was taking in the action before his Snowmobile Freestyle event the following day.
I’m not 100% sure why Brock ran out before the 30-second board went up, but he definitely had something he needed to discuss with an official before the race.
The board goes up.
Brock had the inside line with Nolan just outside him. Inside or outside in the right-handed turn 1?
Brock managed to take the inside while Nolan headed wide and railed the turn.
Brock got the holeshot but Nolan railed around him and took the early lead.
#44X Jimmy Jarrett struggled and was forced out of the race at around the halfway point.
#96 Axell Hodges was up near the front and making passes but then went down and took forever to get going again, scoring him 14th in the end, down 4 laps.
#62 Cody Thomsen put his Camso Yamaha in 13th.
I didn’t see what happened, but, judging from the visor on #89 Keith Curtis, he had his fair share of troubles, finishing 12th.
Freestyle MXer, #26 Ronnie Faisst, was a bit of an unknown entity. He looked great on the bike but needed some more speed to better his 11th.
#18 Darrin Mees is married to a Canadian from Prince George, BC. He finished 10th.
#3 Harris Huizenga put his machine in the top 10, taking 9th at the checkered flag.
#37 Seth Fischer was down 2 laps in 8th by the time the flag flew. With 21-second laps being put in by the leader, lappers were definitely an issue Friday.
Canadian #317 Reagan Sieg was up and down in the final and finished in 7th.
#89 Alfredo Gomez was 3rd in his heat and finished 6th in the final.
#42 Jake Scott (that has to be said like ‘Doc Brown’ from Back to the Future) tried to limit his mistakes and cracked the top 5.
#44 Nolan Heppner raced in Canada last summer in Regina. He held the early lead but went down and had to slowly battle his way up to 4th at the flag.
Canadian #711 Cody Matechuk found himself in the lead when the others went down. He looked good and was doing his best to hold off Hoyer.
The two weaved through lapped traffic and put on a great show at the front.
Unfortunately for Cody, he stalled it in this corner and it seemed to take him an eternity to get himself going again, as the leaders disappeared out front.
To be honest, Cody didn’t even look to be forcing the issue as he sliced his way back to the front and still managed to get up to 3rd, unbeknownst to him.
There’s a pretty good chance #10 Colton Haaker is the only rider who didn’t crash!
He rode a smart race and found himself in 2nd when the flag waved.
Brock Hoyer made it exciting and didn’t win wire to wire.
But in the end, his experience paid off and he made his way back to the front after going down.
Although he was out front, he was never alone. Snow dust was a constant issue as he made his way through the lapped riders.
Brock takes the checkered flag and becomes the first-ever Snow BikeCross X Games gold medalist (Sorry for the grainy photo, we weren’t allowed very close to the track, even with my ‘green’ press credentials. Apparently, ‘red’ was needed…)
It was kind of hard to tell what was going on out there, but Brock and his team knew he’d won it!
Cody rides over and congratulates Brock on his big win. Cody didn’t actually know he’d finished on the podium too. There were no pit boards used and all they got was a white and then checkered flag.
I couldn’t even see the celebration after the race from where we were forced to stand, so I turned around and took a photo of the big screen. #choosybeggar
We had to beg for scraps from our ‘media pen’ as the racers headed back to their pits afterward. Colton was kind enough to stop and give us an interview you can listen to here on the site. “Colton…Colton…who are you wearing???!!!”
I think Nolan was a little disappointed with his 4th because he had the speed to be up there.
Brock catches a lift back to the pits with Reagan.
And that was it for my first-ever appearance at an X Games. I dragged myself back to the Press Tent and watched from the warmth the rest of the evening. They did a podium that was a mystery to most of us back in the tent. We have a photo coming though from a photographer, Steven Marlenee, who was nice enough to stop and ask if I needed one. See you at the races…
1. 2 Brock Hoyer – YAM/Timbersled
2. 10 Colton Haaker – HSK/Timbersled
3. 111 Cody Matechuk – YAM/Yeti
4. 44 Nolan Heppner – YAM/Timbersled
5. 42 Jake Scott – KTM/Timbersled
6. 88 Alfredo Gomez – KTM
7. 317 Reagan Sieg – KTM/Timbersled
8. 37 Seth Fischer – YAM
9. 3 Harris Huizenga – KAW/Timbersled
10. 18 Darrin Mees – KTM
11. 26 Ronnie Faisst – HSK/Timbersled
12. 711 Keith Curtis – KTM/Timbersled
13. 62 Cody Thomsen – YAM/Camso
14. 96 Axell Hodges – KAW/Timbersled
15. 44X Jimmy Jerrett – KTM/Timbersled
Listen to podcast interviews with the top 3 HERE.
Watch Tailgating interview with Brock Hoyer HERE.