Jimmy Kight, a USA Downhill Cycling World Champion

Bruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review.

“(Jimmy) Kight has five years of coaching experience in a variety of disciplines, including road, cyclocross, mountain biking and BMX. As a professional mountain biker for Team GT and Dos Equis/Barracuca from 1989-97, he was a World Cup slalom champion, won a gold medal in the X-Games and claimed numerous U.S. championships.” (January 21, 2011 Fort Lewis College Athletic Department Bulletin announcing Jimmy Kight as the Women’s Road Racing Coach) “Fort Lewis College, one of the premiere programs in Division I cycling, has won 17 USA Cycling national championships in mountain biking, cyclocross and road racing.” (Durango, CO Herald Staff Report, January 7, 2011)

Jimmy graduated from Burroughs in 1988. He was among first competitors in the then new sport of mountain biking.

“Downhill mountain bike riding is one of the most striking segments of bicycle racing. From images of riders hitting huge jumps and crazy rock gardens to full-face helmets and long-sleeve attire, the cool image of downhill is what attracts a lot of people to mountain biking. Downhill riding is both a type of riding as well as an elite racing discipline. The scene ranges from professionally built tracks at lift-served bike parks to local trails that are accessed from a shuttle road.” (Excerpted from Wikipedia)

“Downhill trails and tracks are designed to be as challenging as possible. They will be high speed and having both natural and man-made features. Natural features may include rock gardens, root beds and off-camber sections. Trail builders will add mandatory jumps and drops to keep technicality high and the adrenaline flowing.” (bikeperfect.com)

“John Breeze built the first bike that was purposefully meant to be used in mountainous areas and rough terrain. “The Repack Downhill Race at Mount Tamalpais (Bay Area) is considered the first competitive downhill race. The first World Cup Downhill took place in 1993. Anne-Caroline Chausson is the winningest downhill racer in history. She also won an Olympic gold medal in BMX in 2021.” (Bart Haynes Cycling) “Markus “Max” Stokl holds the speed record for a mountain bike at 167 kilometers per hour (approximately 104 miles per hour” (Red Bull) “Rachel Atherton is the world’s best downhill biker, racking up 14 consecutive World Cup wins.” (Brendan Borrell, Outside)

*”Cyclocross is a non-Olympic discipline of cycling, a cross between road and mountain biking on a closed circuit. The addition of obstacles, such as stairs or fences, requires the riders to dismount and carry their bikes.” (USA Cycling)

Another Ridgecrest Honorable Mention: Hikaru Nakamura, Chess Prodigy and Grand Master

This article was suggested by local attorney, Wayne Silva. Thanks Wayne. Like LA Laker Kurt Rambis and Ann Akiko Meyers, Hikaru did not graduate from Burroughs. Yet, his journey to success started in Ridgecrest. Living in Ridgecrest 1989-1993, the two Nakamura brothers attended Vieweg Elementary School and would occasionally compete against Dwight Morgan’s high school chess club members during the lunch break.

“Hikaru’s older brother Asuka was the first to show his prodigy by winning the national championships for three consecutive years. He first won the kindergarten competition, then the first grade and second grade competitions. Asuka apparently decided to retire at the top of his game at age seven. Hikaru continued to compete. At age ten, Hikaru became the youngest American to beat an international Master when he defeated Jay Bonin at the Marshall Chess Club. Also at age ten, Hikaru became the youngest player to achieve the title of Chess Master from the United States Chess Federation. In 2003, at age 15 years and 79 days, Hikaru solidified his reputation as a chess prodigy, by becoming the youngest American to earn the title Grandmaster, breaking the record of Bobby Fischer by three months.

He is a five-time USA Chess Champion. In October of 2015, he became the second highest rated player in the world with a rating of 2816. Long considered one of the strongest speed chess players in the world, in April of 2019, he won the “Chess.com” Bullet Chess Championship. In December 2019, he placed second in both the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Russia. He has the highest Blitz rating of 2900.” (Excerpted from Wikipedia)

“Grand master Hikaru Nakamura won the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz with a commanding lead, undefeated performance, clinching the tournament’s top prize, $37,500, with three games to spare. Nakamura had led the field of ten super Grand Masters at the tournament’s halfway point.” (Brian Jerauld)

The Nakamura brothers’ mother, Carolyn Merrow, graduated from Burroughs in 1978 and while Asuka and Hikaru attended Vieweg Elementary School, mom Carolyn taught at Faller and Inyokern Elementary Schools. Like Ann Akiko Meyers, Carolyn was an accomplished classically trained string musician. Hikaru authored Bullet Chess: One Minute to Mate.

(Long time Burroughs English teacher, Mike Phillips, contributed to this article)

Courtesy photo: Cyclocross combines road and mountain biking and includes obstacles that requires the riders to dismount.

Story First Published: 2021-11-26