Encino Velodrome Far West Recap

With nearly 70 riders from around the country competing, the John Fitzpatrick & Dave Staub Memorial Far West Encino Velodrome Championships (or Far West Champs for short) was definitely the best and most exciting race day I’ve seen all season. It was a long day but very well organized and the program ran really smoothly.

[Photo by Pat Benson]

This was the first time the new London-style Olympic Omnium has ever been contested. Omnium riders competed in six events which called for a bright and early 9am start time — early for us trackies at least. You could tell who the roadies were cuz they were the ones happy to be up before noon but as the day waned, everyone was feeling it. That said, there was never any lull in the competition and every race was surely in top form.

The men’s field was maxed out which made for some of the most thrilling mass-start racing I had ever seen at Encino Velodrome. Portland’s Zak Kovalcik (pictured below) may have won the Omnium if it weren’t for a mechanical mid-way through the 120-lap Points Race. His support team couldn’t sort out the rear wheel malfunction quickly enough so he had to hop on someone else’s bike to get back in the race. Unfortunately his 5-lap grace period was up by the time he got back on the track and he was down a lap, finishing the race in 12th place. Kovalcik took 1st place in 4 of the 6 Omnium events but the Omnium victory went to Kevin Schiller from San Diego.

It’s interesting to note that if traditional Omnium scoring was used (1st gets 7 points, 2nd gets 5 points, 3rd gets 3 points, 4th gets 2 points, 5th gets 1 point, most points wins) then Kovalcik would have won the Omnium. However in the London-style Omnium, the scoring is much different — 1st gets 1 point, 2nd gets 2 points, 3rd gets 3 points and so on and the rider with the least amount of points wins.

For the women, it was awesome watching everyone try to keep up with the World Champion, Tara Whitten (pictured above). Seventeen-year old Kate Wilson (Connie’s Cycling) was definitely a rider to watch as she took 3rd place in the Points Race, lapping the field with Whitten and Hanan Alves-Hyde and even stealing a couple of the sprints. You could see that she was pretty exhausted by the end of the day but she definitely put in a stellar effort which paid off as she’ll be heading to Nationals in September.

[Photo by Pat Benson]

The Pursuits were probably the longest part of the day but I was just glad to be watching instead of riding. Heh heh. Aside from the Omniums, there were also Keirins and a Sprint tournament so there was something for everyone to enjoy. A lot of racing!

The program ran from 9am and was still going at 7pm when I left (they were just getting into 500m and Kilo TT’s). A long but definitely fun day and a terrific climax to the Encino Velodrome season. Now I’m really excited for the Elite Nationals coming up at LA Velodrome.

See the full results here and more photos from Pat Benson here. As a bonus, here’s a video that Pat Benson shot of Kathy Fitzpatrick sharing the history of how the Far West Champs came to be:

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