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Monday, April 23, 2012
Japan's Uchino wins 2012 JoMoPro

Terry Adams takes a half-minute break from mentioning fellow BMX pros on Twitter to throw down a hithchhiker switch in Joplin, Mo.

A new run format and judging criteria, along with a fresh approach to a best trick contest proved to be very successful (and exciting) this weekend in Joplin, Missouri, at the fourth annual JoMoPro flatland contest.

The weekend kicked off with a pre-jam on Friday evening inside The Bridge, a youth outreach organization that's home to the world-famous Autumn Ramp Park and The Foundry, an all ages music venue. Several dozen riders gathered for the jam to catch up, share stories, and adapt to the floor for the upcoming contest while sessioning together.

Moto Sasaki in a tight spin while working his way towards third place in the pro class.

On Saturday morning the classes quickly filled up, and when registration closed, nearly 60 riders from six different countries were signed up for the Veteran, Novice, Expert, and Pro classes. With three successful years behind the flatland event under the JoMoPro name and lots of media hype, riders were eager to get back to Joplin and earn points for both the BMX Flatland World Circuit and AM Flatland Circuit -- two classification systems that work to build infrastructure within the flatland scene.

This year, event organizers, along with industry icons and professional riders worked together through an online forum to come up with judging criteria that weighted difficulty and originality heavier than consistency, putting an emphasis on pushing the limits of the sport while being a little more forgiving for less than perfect execution of tricks.

Japan's Yohei "Ucchie" Uchino is known for his back wheel combos, and although they put up a tough fight during their two runs in the finals, Ucchie's original positions and switches were enough to beat two-time NORA Cup winner and fellow countryman Moto Sasaki, along with Czech Republic's Dominik Nekolny to take home the top honors.

2012 JoMoPro pro class winners: Dominik Nekolny, Yohei Uchino, and Moto Sasaki.

The Best Trick Jam was definitely the highlight of the night, and the energy inside The Foundry was at an all-time high. The format was simple -- 17 riders lined up in a jam circle and took turns trying their most difficult tricks. They each only got one shot at a time, so if they slipped up or touched the floor, the next rider jumped right in to take his turn. The jam went on for 30 minutes, which allowed each rider eight or nine visits to the floor. Each time a rider pulled a trick that was more difficult and/or original than the last, the judges let the riders and crowd know by holding up flags of approval. Bo Wade took an early lead, but was quickly bumped out by Uchino "Hotoke" Yoshiki who stayed on top of the pack for the majority of the jam. It was fellow Japanese rider Takahiro Ikeda who eventually knocked Hotoke out of contingency with a wild variation of a no-handed rear wheel spin. Takahiro watched on as one by one each of the other competitors took their last turns, unsuccessfully ousting him, until there was only one rider remaining -- last year's JoMoPro winner, Terry Adams. After feeding off the other riders for half and hour, Terry landed a link that no one had ever seen before (backwards peg manual to fakie bunnyhop tailwhip to landing to pivot forwards rocket manual to bunnyhop tailwhip) and stole the title of Best Trick champion from Takahiro at the last possible second. The building erupted with screams and cheers while the riders raised Terry into the air on their shoulders, putting a perfect closing to a great day of celebrating this amazing thing we call flatland BMX.

1. Steve Bergeron
2. Brian Gavagan
3. Mark Dandridge
4. Drew Henderson
5. Derek Callendar
6. Mike Hartman
7. Jeremy Jones
8. Tim Neff
9. Mike Smick
10. Mike Flood

1. Eric Favot
2. Fox Kinsman
3. Shaun Lapsley
4. Brice Long
5. Lea Dobrowski
6. Cody Ward
7. Chuck Dodge
8. Tom Elich

1. Todd Gully
2. Mark Kuhlmann
3. Prasheel Gopal
4. Chris Anderson
5. Rennace Tomko
6. Austin Luberda
7. Claude Hickman
8. Sean Maher
9. Joel Schallhorn
10. Ron Monis

1. Yohei Uchino
2. Dominik Nekolny
3. Moto Sasaki
4. Matthias Dandois
5. Viki Gomez
6. Takahiro Ikeda
7. Terry Adams
8. Alex Julelin
9. Matt Wilhelm
10. Jesse Puente

Pro/Am Best Trick Winner: Terry Adams