Catching up with Marissa Markelon, WMX Champ

Interview by: Taylor Dressler

Photos courtesy of: Eric Johnson

Marissa Markelon was crowned the WMX Champion last season but it has taken her a few rounds to get warmed up and claim an overall win this season. She got it done at the Hangtown Motocross Classic and edged out the current points leader, Kylie Fasnacht. We caught up with Marissa to see how her season has been going and what she has in store for the last four rounds…

So Marissa, you won the WMX Championship last year and it came down to the final round, there were only a few points separating the top girls. What were some of the highs and lows of your season last year?

Well, I had a really rough beginning of the season. I struggled with bike issues for the first four rounds. My transmission went at Glen Helen, then my bike ended up blowing up at Freestone. After that stuff happened, I wasn’t even thinking of the championship anymore, I was more focused on just getting the best finish I could. It came back down the last round ultimately; I had to go in with better results than Kylie (Fasnacht) and Mackenzie (Tricker). I knew I didn’t have to win the second moto but it was ideal if I just went 1-1. It was a tight season all year long and I have a feeling that’s what this season is going to be like this year too. It’s going to come down to the last few rounds because the points are tight right now.

The season is at the midway point with four rounds left, you’re only 11 points behind Kylie who is currently leading the class right now and 27 points ahead of Mackenzie. You guys are going at it again and it’s some tight racing, what are some of your thoughts going into the last four rounds?

Definitely just try and have better finishes. Ultimately my goal is to go into the next four rounds and I would love to win them all but luck also plays a role in racing. I have to ride consistently, that’s all it’s going to be, that’s all it was last year. Staying in every race, being top three in every race. If you can just be there just in case something happens, then that makes a difference. Mackenzie’s had some falls this season and I had bike issues last season. Anything can happen when you have a long series. I’d love to go in and win them all and put a good closer on this year and get the championship again. Kylie and Mackenzie have been putting in really rides so we all just have to ride our own race and be smart. Whoever is the most consistent and has the most wins is going to take it this year.

You’ve been very consistent this year with mostly top three finishes, and this past weekend you went 2-1 to take the overall win over Kylie Fasnacht. This was you’re first overall win of the 2015 season, how did that feel to finally get that?

It felt good! I hadn’t won since Mini O’s last year. It was good to end the season with a 1-1 last year, and I really wanted to come into this year and start off strong. I didn’t start off too bad at Daytona. I had surgery two days after the last round the previous year so I wasn’t even supposed to race Daytona or even be on a bike at all, or in the gym. I wanted to win but I knew realistically that probably wasn’t going to happen. I stayed in good shape training wise because I was cycling a lot but I just couldn’t use my left arm at all. Given the circumstances with the surgery and the injury I had, I did everything I could to try and be ready. I’m not satisfied with my results so far this year, I’m definitely happy that I won, especially at Hangtown having won on Saturday, Pro Day. I’m happy I got that overall and I really just want to keep the ball rolling. I don’t want to get any more thirds, fourths or seconds, I just want to be number one the rest of the season. That’s what I plan on doing and I’ll do whatever I have to, to get there and stay there. I want to get the championship again.

With the second on Saturday, the WMX riders got to race with the Pro guys and race in front of the crowd. I know that in the past the WMX series traveled with the Pro Motocross series, but then they made some changes. They brought it back at Hangtown this year, what was it like to get the win in front of all the fans?
It was awesome!! My rookie season in 2011, when I raced with Rock River, I actually raced the full WMX series when they raced all eight rounds with the guys series. Every race was on Saturday with the pro guys. I felt very fortunate to get to spend my rookie year doing that. Then the series kind of fell down a little bit and we started doing the Triple Crown series and I only did one round that year. It’s cool going to all the big amateur nationals like we did last year. It was fun but there’s nothing like being in front of thousands of people. I loved winning the championship last year but to win this weekend in front of such a big crowd at a pro event where were we get to race in front of all the big teams was awesome. Factory Kawasaki was there and all the big names were watching. Winning is awesome, but its even better if you win in front of a crowd like that.

What have you been doing training wise to get ready for these WMX rounds?

Mainly my focus with training right now has been to keep my shoulder strong. I have been struggling with it a bit, just with mobility and strength. I had the surgery and I wasn’t able to move it at all for six weeks after that. Then I could only lift little weights so there wasn’t much I could do. It’s still pretty weak so my main goal is keep my shoulder strong so nothing happens to it. Every time I ride I’m very conscious of hurting it or doing something that would injure it more. Other than that, I’ve been keeping my cardio and endurance up. Eating healthy has been important too. After a win your happy and you want to go out and have a cheat day, but luckily I’m traveling with Amber Felicio and stay on top of each others game and we keep each other really ground when it comes to training and our diet. I try stay on those things and keep a good schedule going but it’s hard when you’re traveling. We’re on the road, it’s hard to find places to work out when you’re in a camper. I’ve been staying in California at her house and we have a gym membership, we have road bikes. We’ve just been cycling away and hitting the gym and doing everything we can.

The WMX class has some fast talent this year. It was one of the more exciting motos of the day with the top few girls trading places and there were lots of battles going on. What are your thoughts on that?

That’s what’s exciting about racing this class. Last year it was fun, the top three were really consistent and it’s been almost identical this year. Kylie has stepped it up and Geiger is coming back in it, Sayaka Kaneshiro is back. There are lots of fast girls, its not just one or two girls battling it out. The whole front of the pack is battling, its not just one or two girls checking out. The top eight girls are duking it out and that makes for good racing. The whole front of the pack is battling, its not just one or two girls checking out.

The girls don’t really get a lot of the attention they deserve and I think the race at Hangtown was an eye opener for a lot of the fans to really see how fast and talented the women are. Do you think having the WMX races at the Pro Motocross rounds helps with that?Yeah for sure, it’s only going to progress from here. There are a lot of little girls getting on big bikes now and more of the girls who were in the back of the pack last year have stepped it up. The girls notice that, when there’s more chance for recognition and we’re getting promoted more, we’re going to work harder. Especially if we are going to race at the Pro Motocross races the last few rounds. There is more of an incentive to work harder and push yourself more. I’ve seen that happen a lot and it’s been happening. Look at Kylie, she’s stepped it up from last year, Mackenzie too. Sayaka (Kaneshiro) too, she’s been training just to hit these big races. Some of the girls couldn’t even touch us before and now they’re getting good starts and throwing down.

Who do you have helping you out this year?

My dad, he’s my biggest sponsor and he has been since day one. All the guys at Kawasaki have been helping me out a bunch. New Haven Powersports, my local shop back home. Twin Air, Asterisk, Fly Racing, 6d Helmets, Eks Brand goggles, Factory Connection, Maxima, Evans Coolant, Milford Riders, Stratus Wear, DJ Designs Co., Mika Metals, Dunlop, Works Connection and FMF.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login