Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2022 AMA observed trials national championship took place this past weekend in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains at the Trials Training Center. FactoryONE Sherco pilot Pat Smage picked up where he left off with a commanding sweep of the weekend. Smage scored just 11 points over both days compared to second place with 49.
“Today started out pretty shaky I would say!” exclaimed Pat Smage when speaking on day one. “I didn’t feel that confident or comfortable from the start as I hit my skid plate on one and my boot on a few rocks. After that, I started getting frustrated and wasn’t having fun,” continued Smage. “From there, I changed my mindset to have fun and not focus on the final placement. You never know how long you will have to ride nationals, so I decided to just go have fun and not worry if I won or lost, and surprisingly, I didn’t dab from there — I cleaned the rest of the day. The sections were really good so I was happy to go clean from then on out. The competition has really stepped up their game, so I know i have to ride really well to stay ahead of them.”
Smage finished with just four points from the first loop. He did not score another point on the day, coming in with 34 “cleans.” Josh Roper and Alexander Niederer rounded out the first podium. FactoryONE Scorpa rider Alex Myers just missed the last step of the box with a P4 finish. Younger brother Willem woke with severe back spasms and wasn’t able to compete.
Round 2 saw a much tighter battle for the top two positions between Smage and Roper. Smage’s clean loop 3 would be the difference maker. The pair finished loop 1 with Smage on six points and Roper on seven. Loop 2 remained equally close, but Smage gained two points to the better over Roper with scores of one for Smage and three for Roper. The third and definitive loop saw Smage with a zero and Roper with a seven for a 10-point deficit to the 12-time champion. Scorpa pilot Alex Myers bettered his previous days finish with a P3 podium finish. Willem Myers was able to compete on day two and finished P5.
Pat Smage said on day two, “Overall it went really well, but I started off with a big mistake in section 6. There was a creek, and I didn’t have much confidence in the line I was taking. I took a couple points early, and I had a small line where I thought there was traction but I ended up behind it a bit and I spun [the rear tire] and ended up taking a five there. I took one more point on the loop, so I was a bit frustrated, but I knew what I needed to do to clean it up. I did have another dab there on the second loop but went clean on the third. I had some good rides and some shaky rides that I really had to work for to stay clean. In the end, I am happy with the result.”
Alex Myers said of his P3 finish on day two, “My riding improved from yesterday. It seemed like the first two loops I was on it, and then I wasn’t. It was a mental battle with that. My minder did a really good job keeping me calm and focused. I am happy to salvage the third, but I know I have some work to do to put pressure on Pat.”
Rounds 3 and 4 move to the West Coast on May 14 and 15. Smage will be making a stop at the California Invitational Trial on April 20 and the 50th El Trial de Espana on April 23. Louise Forsley will be making her trials debut at those same two events.