By Ryan McCracken on September 12, 2017.
Samantha Andres and Jessalyn Phillips are best friends off the track, but that all changes when the gate falls.
The pair of local BMX riders finished in tandem on multiple occasions throughout this weekend’s Grands and Provincial Championships at the Medicine Hat BMX Club — fitting considering their tight-knit relationship.
“We work together, we ride together and we’re friends up until we’re in the gate,” said Phillips. “If we’re racing, we’re racing and what happens on the track happens. If one of us falls, of course we’ll be concerned, but that’s after the race.”
Andres added the duo can almost always be found discussing strategy before a race and congratulating each other’s efforts after it. But once the wheels start turning, their friendship is put on hold.
“We are friends off the track and we’re competitors on the track,” said Andres. “We talk about how we can get through the race, we give each other strategies, but once we’re on the track that’s when we’re just competitors.”
While Andres finished ahead of her teammate and rival in the 17-and-over female expert class during Saturday’s events — taking third to Phillips’ fourth — Phillips ended up on the overall podium with a third place finish in the season points standings.
The pair flipped positions in Sunday’s championship. Phillips earned bronze after three second place heats, while Andres settled for fourth after winning her opening heat then taking third in each of the next two.
Andres added Saturday’s third place finish only brought her to fifth in the overall points race because she just made the jump to expert a few weeks ago. Females riders are required to collect 25 victories in order to qualify for the expert class, a feat Andres accomplished in a three-way tie last month in St. Albert.
“This is my fourth year, so finally moving up is such an accomplishment,” she said, adding her and Phillips put their blood, sweat and tears into the sport. “People say this sport is easy. It’s not. It’s so much hard work and so much peddling.”
But the work doesn’t seem so hard when it’s done alongside a best friend, says Phillips.
“I love it. We get to hang out and talk in staging and we also get to compete,” said Phillips. “The joke is, I’m her Mini-Me.”
Andres and Phillips weren’t the only members of the Medicine Hat BMX club who found their way onto the podium over the weekend.
Hallie Gauthier earned second place finishes in the 12 expert female class Saturday then repeated the feat in the 12 female class Sunday and Nicholas Doehring took third in the junior male division Saturday and Sunday,
Chase Droeske, Chase Smyth and Andrew Motz all earned gold medals for Medicine in Saturday’s Grands event. Droeske finished atop a class of 16 riders in the seven intermediate class, Smyth topped the 14-rider eight novice class and Motz picked up the gold in the 30-to-39 division.
Also from Saturday, Myla Motz took silver in the eight expert female division, and Liam Giesbrecht finished second among the six intermediate riders. Connor Hauck clinched a silver medal in the 12 novice male class, Riley Bannick took home bronze in 10 novice male, Landon Andres finished third in 12 expert male, and Dion-Jay Bayrack earned bronze in the 30-to-39 male class.
The success carried over into Sunday’s championship, with Victoria Sehn earning silver in the nine-year-old female class, Nick Gauthier taking home a silver medal in the 30-to39 cruiser division and Lance Tessier picking up a bronze in the 17-to-24 male class.
Medicine Hat’s Chelsea Kingston took home silver Saturday and Sunday’s pro women class while competing with Lethbridge BMX Club.
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