While he has claimed back-to-back 450SX Class titles and now has the opportunity to become just the fourth rider to ever win three consecutive championships, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s path to greatness hasn’t been without its difficult moments. This behind-the-scenes feature will provide a look into what helped Villopoto become a champion at the sport’s most competitive level and move on to become perhaps the most dominant figure of this new era.
“It’s a lot of work and there’s a lot of risk involved,” said Villopoto. “When I win, everybody else in my group wins. From my mechanic to my wife to my trainer; it takes work from all of us. And when we do that, there’s nothing better. It would make my life easier if I was just the best guy, and I won every time. You just go through your life thinking it will be relatively easy. You don’t second guess or think about anything really. But to know you have to show up every weekend ready to race. And not only to race but … to brawl. The other guys are going to be right there like Chad [Reed] or Ryan [Dungey] and that wears on you.”
After a successful 250SX Class career, Villopoto made his move into the 450SX division loaded with the biggest names in Monster Energy Supercross. It was an up and down season for Villopoto, but he realized his dream of winning by claiming his first career victory in front of his hometown crowd in Seattle, solidifying himself as a star of the future. Since then, Villopoto has won 25 more Main Events to place him seventh on the all-time 450SX Class wins list and has captured the last two Monster Energy Supercross Championships.
As arguably the most recognizable name in the sport today, Villopoto has had the coveted privilege of experiencing the best Monster Energy Supercross has to offer. However, that elation wasn’t without some of the most trying times of Villopoto’s career in which a pair of major injuries in 2010 and in 2012, mere weeks after defending his title, left him sidelined from the sport he loves and in a challenge to maintain his passion for competition.
The fast-paced life of a supercross rider goes beyond the track and often times riders are forced to mature at an accelerated pace. The financial responsibilities and the sponsorship obligations challenged Villopoto as much as a Main Event.
“You are able to turn pro at 16, and if you sign a deal for 200 grand, you’re 16, but you actually become 21,” said Villopoto. “That’s basically the way that the parents have to start looking at it. You’re doing this for media, you have to go here, and you have to fly there. Now it’s a job and it’s real. You’re supposed to do that and then not do these other things. Parties, whatever it is, you can’t do that, but you have to fulfill all of these other obligations. We started butting heads then. Mainly at that time, it was with my mom.”
From those dark moments came the resiliency and toughness to overcome all obstacles. As a result of the pain he’s endured in his 450SX career, Villopoto has emerged as a proverbial warrior, leaving nothing on the track and racing for the sole mission of success. Nothing can faze him, and nothing can be worse than what he’s already had to endure. In an era where the best riders on the planet are closer in speed and talent than ever before, Villopoto has found a way to reach new levels of intensity and become the rider to beat in the championship.
In addition to talking to the superstar rider himself, Monster Energy Supercross: Ryan Villopoto Champion will visit those who have been an influential part of his illustrious career and have stood by his side through the tough times. From his parents and his sister, his wife Kristen, to his trainer Aldon Baker, viewers will learn who has helped mold Villopoto into the champion he is today.
The premiere of Monster Energy Supercross: Ryan Villopoto Champion can be seen exclusively on CBS Sports this Sunday, February 10, at Noon ET. This Saturday night’s race from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego will air live on SPEED at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.
Supercross LIVE! is back in 2013 with a three-hour mid-raceday program from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. local time. Hosts, Jim Holley, a former World Supercross Champion, and Kevin Barnett, a former member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team and professional broadcaster, will provide in-depth analysis of the afternoon’s practice and qualifying sessions as the riders and teams prepare for the night racing, in addition to interviews and behind-the-scenes coverage. As the only place to follow live practice and qualifying coverage from Monster Energy Supercross, Supercross LIVE! provides fans with an inside perspective before the gate drops on the night’s qualifying and Main Events. Additionally, there will be video snippets made available throughout the race day that can be viewed on www.SupercrossOnline.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross, or the YouTube Channel www.YouTube.com/SupercrossLive. To access the live streaming broadcasts, go to www.SupercrossOnline.com/SupercrossLive or subscribe to the Supercross LIVE! streaming channel at new.LiveStream.com/Supercrosslive.
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