Family: Parents, Mark and Gigi; sister Morgan (8).
Favorite athlete: Ryan Dungy, national motocross champion.
Other sports: Riding dirt bikes.
Hobbies: Riding snowmobile.
Best athletic memory: Qualifying for the national meet in Las Vegas.
BY SHAWN WERRE
An area high-flying motorcycle racer has caught big air - enough to land him in Las Vegas this weekend to compete for a national championship.
Nathan Browning is one of 20 motocross riders in his class who qualified to compete at the 12th annual Amateur National ArenaCross Championships in Las Vegas. The amateurs will race on Sunday, after the professionals. The field of riders in Brownings' class will feature the top four riders from five regions in the United States.
For his efforts, Browning is the American News Athlete of the Week.
I feel pretty proud, Browning said of his accomplishment. I didn't know if was going to finish the first race. There was good competition.
Browning, 14, has raced in several venues, the most recent in November at Des Moines, Iowa, where he qualified for the Las Vegas race. He also has fared well in other races in Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis, which earned him enough points to qualify for his first shot at a national championship.
An eighth-grader at Warner, Browning will be one of the youngest riders competing in his class. He said he will probably be racing against 18- to 20-year-olds. Browning said an important part of the sport is being properly trained, which goes a long way toward the success of a rider.
I've been to Georgia for training and will be going there again this summer for about three weeks, he said. You learn how to do everything really fast, and proper form on the bike, a healthy diet and how to workout.
In addition to traveling to race and train, Browning gets to improve his skills locally as well.
Frederick has a track, and we're building a track about a mile from the Starlite (in Aberdeen), he said.
Browning has raced on both indoor and outdoor tracks, which do have differences, he said.
Indoor is a lot more tight and hard-packed, he said. Outdoors is a lot more spread out.
He likes the adrenaline rush the sport brings, and the speed. Speeds on a straightaway can reach 60 to 70 mph, said Browning.
Races typically run 20 to 30 minutes, which can test a rider's endurance and stamina, especially when trying to control a motocross bike. Browning, whose bike weighs 200 to 250 pounds, finds handling his bike among the most challenging aspects of the sport.
Controlling your breathing, and not getting tired during a race, are what Browning labeled as keys to staying in control. Throwing a big bike around can get you wore down.
Riders, who make lots of turns and jumps on dirt tracks, have the latest in protective equipment as well.
We have very strong and expensive helmets. There are chest protectors and boots, and braces for your neck and knees, he said.
Asked if he was nervous about racing in such a big event, Browning noted he is more concerned about finishing well.
I want to try and do good, and try to get in the top 10 in the nation, he said.
To those who are considering getting into motocross, dedication, patience and lots of practice are requirements.
It takes a lot of practice, Browning said. It's not all about 'giving it the gas.' It takes a lot of patience and a lot of form.