Like his dad, Napolitan does what he loves
The Austintown native has had a successful season on the Dew Sports Tour.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- When Anthony Napolitan won the Dew Action Sports Tour's season-ending PlayStation Pro in the BMX Dirt category Oct. 13 in Orlando, Fla., the standings championship came along with it.
The 20-year-old reveled in the moment of glory, acknowledging the crowd, along with his mother, brother and sister. After a few TV interviews and a first-place prize presentation, the Austintown resident came down from his high and had time for reflection.
Although he had just proven himself a world champion in his specialty, the 20-year Napolitan's thoughts turned to someone who wasn't on hand: his father.
"I'd say he'd be super-sstoked about this," Napolitan said of his father, Ronald Anthony, who died when Anthony was 9-years-old.
No doubt, Anthony's drive to ride to the top of the BMX dirt world was partly planted by Ron Napolitan.
"His interests were working on cars and body-building," Anthony said of his father who passed away at age 32.
"He had a Ford Maverick that he liked to work on and he competed in races with that," Anthony said of a more specific recollection. "I have some of him in me," he said of traits such as personality and "the same drive to do whatever we love to do."
The Dew Cup Tour comprised five stops: Panasonic Open (Louisville, Ky.); Right Guard Open (Denver, Colo.); Vans Invitational (Portland, Ore.); Toyota Challenge (San Jose, Calif.) and PlayStation (Orlando).
Prior to the last stop, Napolitan was second in the overall standings -- 12 points behind Luke Parslow. In Orlando, Corey Bohan was second and Parslow, third.
For the 2006 season, Parslow was runner-up and Bohan third. Ryan Nyquist of Los Gatos, Calif, finished fourth and BMX Dirt's defending champion, Ryan Guettler, was fifth.
Parslow, Bohan and Guettler are all Australians.
How he won
The BMX Dirt winner was determined by the top score after two runs. (The better of the two counts.) However, Anthony didn't need the second; it was academic.
"My first run was pretty flawless and that put me in first place and I held on to the end," the 2004 Austintown Fitch graduate said. "I was the last rider to go in the second run and I didn't have to do anything. I just kind of rolled in and did a little run for the people in the audience and that was that."
His score after first run was a winning 94.25. Bohan had 94.00 and Parslow 93.25.
Napolitan's stunts were similar to what he did in previous Dew Tour events: a front flip no-hander on the first jump; a double tailwhip on the second jump; a 360 turndown on the third jump and a 360 double tailwhip on the fourth.
On the double tail, the rider kicks the whole bike around himself. The 360 is spinning it around twice. The 360 turndown is a spin while the rider pulls the bike up into his body and turns it down over his legs. The 360 double tailwhip is a spin and double tailwhip.
"Everyone rode really good," said the son of Vickie Napolitan of Austintown.
There were 12 finalists from a field of the 30 best riders in the world.
Since Anthony was the last rider in his second run, he instantly knew he was going to be declared the winner.
"I did a few moves similar to the first run and just rode to the crowd and showed my appreciation."
He then signed autographs.
The day after the finals, Napolitan received his championship trophy at the Dew Cup ceremony.
Besides the trophy, it was a 90,000 weekend for Napolitan -- 15,000 for winning the event and 75,000 for the overall standings.
Anthony has been riding for six years, starting on mounds in a woods in his backyard in Austintown.
"There used to be jumps in a field behind our house until the township came and plowed them," he said. "The neighbors complained about it. Now, there are no mounds and no place to do it."
Is there international glory in store for the BMT Dirt champ?
Yes, but first, there's a visit to Sheffield, England for another contest.
Success hasn't changed Anthony Napolitan; he still talks to friends he grew up with.
When he won the Dew Cup and subsequent championship, it was Friday, Oct. 13.
It wasn't unlucky, but it was unfortunate that his father couldn't have been on hand.