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2018 UCI BMX Worlds: The Big Finish

June 10, 2018 by · Comments Off 

2018 UCI BMX World Champions
The 2018 UCI BMX World Championships came to an epic close Saturday, with a full day of Championship (aka Junior and Elite) Class racing. While the schedule called for the qualifying motos to take place on Friday, Mother Nature had other plans, as winds off the Caspian kicked up, so as to make the Elite side unsafe.

The single-elimination rounds were already scheduled to run under the lights, starting at 8:40PM, local time. So the motos, previously-scheduled for a similar timeslot on Friday night, would run Saturday at 6:10PM.

Unlike the Challenge classes earlier in the week, the Championship classes were not live streamed on bmxlive.tv, due to the sale of TV rights in various markets (including North America). Thus, every BMX fan with a computer or phone mobbed onto social media to try and find a stream–any stream, to see it live. One of the popular ones (and one we used, thanks to G-MO’s advice on Facebook) was on Azer TV, with commentary in the native language. Ah, the joys of the Internet.

Olympic Channel Lead-In for 2018 UCI BMX World ChampionshipsUltimately, we learned that olympicchannel.com was also streaming the action (thanks, Steve Diamond Elements), though it took a minute to find it; they had an image of a mountain biker, and only tiny-type mention of BMX in their headline (above). That one was better than the Azer TV stream, with Dr. Jason Richardson, and partner on the mic.

When it came time for the main events, four Americans were still in the program– Sephani Morin in Junior Women, Alise Willoughby and Brooke Crain in Elite Women and Corben Sharrah in Elite Men.

Of course it wasn’t all about Team USA. Russia, France and The Netherlands all had big horsepower at the top of the 8-meter hill when it was do-or-die time. Some did, some died (BMXically-speaking).

We could give the the play by play in written form, but for main events with this much action and changes in fortune, you need to see it in living color, via the vids below.

Plus, so-as to not spoil the many surprises to come, on the way to the above set of rainbow jersey winners, we’ll link the results after the video (opening in a new window or tab), instead of showing them.

Junior Women Main Event

Junior Women Main Event Results


Junior Men Main Event

Junior Men Main Event Results


Elite Women Main Event

Elite Women Main Event Results


Elite Men Main Event

Elite Men Main Event Results

WOW!…Just-WOW! As heartbroken as we are for Alise, Brooke and Corben, with their respective misfortunes in the main event, as BMX fans, racing rarely gets better than this. Any sports movie writer would do-well to model this event for their big finish.

A podium sweep by the Dutch Women, with two sisters in the Gold and Silver spots; a .006/sec upset at the line by a pair of French stars (who, by the way, went 2-3, in the same order, last year in Rock Hill); plus a relatively-unknown, but way-fast Brazilian, taking up the three-spot late in the lap in Elite Men.

And we hope you didn’t just skip the Junior mains. Both had a stack of names you will be seeing in coming World Cup, USA BMX and/or World Championship results, not the least of which are Indy Scheepers (NED), Avriana Hebert (CAN), and Stephani Morin (USA) in Junior Women; as well as Leo Garoyan (FRA), Juan Valencia (COL), Mauricio Molina (CHI), and Kye Afoo (AUS) in Junior Men, along with the other main makers.

The stage is now set for the 2019 Worlds, with the ceremonial flag having been officially-handed over to organizers from Zolder, Belgium. And it won’t be all-too-long til the world comes back to the USA in 2020, for a Texas-sized hoedown in Houston.

The reports coming back from challenge class families who made the trip are singing the praises of their Baku experience in a big way. Full disclosure: we were VERY skeptical of this location, and said-so many times, since the host city was announced. We were wrong in our assessment, which makes us more glad than sad. We’re betting that Baku hasn’t seen the last of World-level BMX Racing.

—Mike Carruth

Photos By Craig Dutton

Championship Class Practice, Day One

Championship Class Practice, Day Two

Championship Class Racing


Craig’s Photos From Earlier in Worlds Week

Challenge Class Practice, Day One

Challenge Class Practice, Day Two

Challenge Cruiser Racing

13-Under Challenge Racing

14-Over Challenge Racing

2017 BOX Contingency Pays Out

August 24, 2017 by · Comments Off 

2017 BOX Pro Contingency Pays Out

Back on November 24 of last year, BMX News brought you a report on the Box Components Pro Contingency program for 2017. The program put $80,000+ up for grabs for A-Pro, Elite Men, Elite Women and Vet Pros who hit the podium at USA BMX Pro Series and UCI World Cup races (Elite only) Read more

Geving Accepts One-Year Suspension

April 23, 2017 by · Comments Off 

Amanda Geving Accepts One-Year Suspension
Unfortunate news in the Elite ranks today, as we learn that Elite Women Amanda Geving accepted a one-year suspension, initiated by the US Anti-Doping Agency, for testing positive for a banned substance in a random test collected in mid January.

The substance, acetazolamide, is classified in the “Diuretics and Masking Agents” category, and was said, in a USADA release on the action (link below), to be “prohibited at all times… under the World Anti-Doping Code.”

After an investigation on the positive test, USADA accepted Amanda’s explanation that the acetazolamide detected in her test was a component ingredient in a medication she had taken for altitude sickness.

Notwithstanding the explanation and supporting evidence, USADA placed Amanda on suspension for one year. Without the mitigation, it would have been two years.

To editorialize a bit, if you’ll allow, this amounted to, essentially, paperwork error on Amanda’s part; had she applied for a “Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE),” and was tested, there would likely had been no issue.

We contacted Amanda to get a few graphs on her side of the story. Here’s what she said:

I have been in USADA’s drug testing pool since I was 17 years old. In the 11 years of getting tested I have never tested positive for any prohibited substance nor would I ever use a prohibited substance for performance enhancement.

The suspension I received is because I did not properly document taking the altitude sickness medication, as it states in the press release from USADA.

I strictly took the altitude sickness medication for the high elevation I was going to be exposed to on a snowboarding trip with friends, as I am very prone to altitude sickness. I have always been a clean athlete and have no reason to take any performance enhancing substances.

Receiving a years worth of suspension for not documenting properly before I took the altitude sickness medication is a bit outrageous, but this just goes to show how politics can take the fun out of anything.

Last year, I decided to go to some races just to have fun riding my bike and it turned out my results were good enough that it put me back in the USADA drug testing pool.

I was no longer accustomed to having to document anything and everything I do, and where I go every second of every day again so it did not even cross my mind to document beforehand about taking altitude sickness medication for my snowboard trip.

I want to thank my sponsors, family and friends that have supported me through this whole process.

—Amanda Geving

Yess BMX Factory Team Manager, Lisa Motley, told News:

I have personally known Amanda Geving for the better part of two decades. She is and has been an amazing role model for young girls everywhere.

As a firefighter she has devoted her life to helping others during the worst time of their lives. Everyone that knows Amanda knows her reputation is beyond reproach.

We at Yess BMX love, respect, and support Amanda 100%. We will continue to stand behind her during this time.

About the USADA Testing Process
For those of you unfamiliar with the testing process that most-every Elite athlete is subject to, it is a fairly onerous one. USADA testing personnel can show up at your door any time, day or night, to collect a sample (which usually involves a urine sample, but, we’re told, can be also be a blood sample).

In order to facilitate this, athletes need to “check in” with their whereabouts at all times—which is now done via an app. In the event you are not there when they show up, you have a certain amount of time to get there, or arrange to meet at a mutually-agreeable location. If you’re a “no-show,” and they can’t get a sample, you face an automatic failed test, and the penalty associated with that.

If you don’t have to pee at that particular moment, or have “stage fright,” the tester will wait until you can force out enough to make a testable specimen.

UCI Anti-Dpoing Chaperones
Testing is also conducted at race events. If you look hard enough after the Elite main events, you may see people wearing “Chaperone” vests (shown above). They stick to the selected athletes (winners, plus two randomly-selected riders) like glue and accompany them to the testing location.

If you’re the modest type, you’re in for quite an experience, at least at first, as you need to be bare “nipple to knee,” as one athlete put it, while the specimen is collected.

Plus, as you can see by this one case, you need to be totally aware of every-last-thing you put in your body if you’re in the testing pool because, one false move, and the consequences are quite severe.

Anti-Doping is an important part of keeping the proverbial field level for all competitors. That said, there are times when the harshness of the process, for those who unintentionally run afoul of it, becomes clear.

And you thought being Elite was all about signing autographs, doing sprints, first class upgrades and a new bike whenever you want it.

We are sorry that this happened to our long-time friend, and look forward to seeing her out at the 2018 season opener (which will likely be scheduled after her suspension ends, on January 17, 2018).

—Mike Carruth

Top photo by Jerry Landrum, bmxmania.com.

Links

“U.S. Cycling Athlete, Amanda Geving, Accepts Sanction for
Anti-Doping Rule Violation”


Comments



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USAC Crowns 2017 Elite Champs

April 1, 2017 by · Comments Off 

2017 USA Cycling BMX Jr/Elite Champions
The annual USA Cycling BMX Elite Nationals Championships were held Friday, alongside the second of four Team USA World Championship qualifiers, and the Carolina Nationals pre-race.

Like most of these USA-only events, the Elite portion of the program was not packed with rack after rack of household name stars. Instead, one rack of Women, two racks of men, and one rack of Junior Men (which is an improvement, since we did not have any Junior classes at all last year, partially owing to the USA BMX rule at the time that said if you race Junior Elite, you are immediately turned up to A-Pro. This year, the rule was relaxed, and we had a gate of Junior Men.

Junior Men, by the way, was the race of the day, as Bryce Batten and Kamren Larsen battled the last half of the track. Bryce led it to turn two, but Kam came in and put the swoop down, taking the lead into the third straight.

BB jumped into the last turn, which gave him some nose room into the last turn, and he took every-bit of it to come up roses, and on to the stripe for his first title win in a championship class. We’ll be waiting for the next one in about 110 days or so, right back here in Rock Hill.

There was no Junior Womens class, so the only Junior Woman—Sophia Foresta—was combined with the Elites, however received her own podium award and “stars & bars” jersey.

In the Elite classes, Reigning Champ, Connor Fields was coming off an ankle injury sufferend in Oldsmar, and said, in a post-race interview, that he only recently started walking on the injured ankle again, and the trip to Rock Hill to defend his title was one of last minute decision, based on how he felt at the time.

Corben Sharrah—who had held the USAC title before, had gate two, next to Connor, and got out to a nice lead early on, and held it all the way home. Jared the Jet Garcia was riding strong all day, and had a slammin lap in the main, with second place.

In the Elite Women, Alise was sitting on six USAC wins—every year since they started running it off the SX hill in, maybe 2011, (check us on that). Her seventh running down the SX hill would work out the same as the previous six, with a win taken wire to wire.

Felicia Stancil is edging her way back to the front of the pack, after an injury/illness took her out for substantially all of last season. Felicia ended up second at the USAC Nationals, and Dani George was third.

Here are the podium finishes, via USA Cycling’s website.

Junior Women
1. Sophia Foresta – GT Bicycles

Junior Men
1. Bryce Batten – Factory Throdwn
2. Kamren Larsen – USA Cycling Devo
3. Brady Kincheloe – Powers Bike Shop

Elite Women
1. Alise Post – Troy Lee/Klean Athlete/Promax/GW
2. Felicia Stancil – GT Bicycles
3. Dani George – Dale Holmes Racing

Elite Men
1. Corben Sharrah – Daylight Cycles
2. Jared Garcia – Box Components
3. Connor Fields – Chase BMX

Top photo by Traci Batten. Thanks Traci!





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2017 USA Cycling BMX Jr/Elite Champions

The BMX Layer Cake: UCI / USA BMX / USAC

June 23, 2016 by · Comments Off 

The BMX Layer Cake: UCI / USA BMX / USAC
With all the interactions and overlays between the USA BMX program, the UCI BMX program, and throwing USA Cycling in for the Olympic hopefuls, it may sometimes seem impossible to fully understand how things work. This became clear to us recently when we heard someone say, just before the Olympic Trials weekend: “There is no more AA Pro, it’s called Elite Now.”

Not true…but not 100% false either. Why? because AA Pro and Elite exist in tandem to a large extent. Pro Series races have an “overlay” where they are both at the same time. What does that mean? Read on, and the truth will be revealed.

BMX News Layer CakeOn the plane back from the Trials, we started listing out some of the key differences, misunderstood rules, overlays and downright errors in how some of us interpret the interactions between USA BMX, UCI BMX and USA Cycling BMX programs.

Once the list was roughed out, we called upon some friends to give it a close review, then add their own items, if they saw something that needed adding.

We worked to develop a single-source document for BMXers around the world to get this important info, which is all available on the marvelous Internet, but has never been in one place before. It is important to connect the dots on how the various programs work together, where they part ways, and how it all impacts the various levels of racers out there.

Here goes…

UCI CLASSES

* Challenge – No proficiency break. Bike: 20″ and Cruiser.
* Junior – 17-18 year olds
* Elite – 19-Over
* Masters 30-over

Challenge classes most-closely resemble “Amateur” age classes in USA BMX and BMX Canada. Because of the large participation pool in North America, USA BMX and BMX Canada can run a wider range of individual age classes, and also divide those age classes into three proficiencies (Novice, Intermediate and Expert).

Riddle: When is the World Championship not the World Championship?
Answer: On any day that the “Challenge” Classes are running. Those events are officially called the “UCI BMX World Challenge.” Junior and Elite are the “Championship” classes and therefore run during the UCI BMX World Championships. The whole event is generically called the “World Championships,” but that is not the official name.

UCI Elite Classes are not “Pro” classes per se, but really “beyond-expert” age classes (though Elite riders do earn prize money). Junior is limited to 17-18 year olds. Juniors turn Elite, regardless of experience, when they turn 19 in “UCI Years.” UCI age is based on the rider’s age on Dec 31 of that year.

UCI also has a 17-24 Mens’ challenge class and 17-over Womens’ challenge for riders who do not want to race Elite. UCI allows riders to step back and forth between Elite and Challenge / Masters, providing they had not earned any UCI points in Elite the previous year.

UCI Junior and Elite Classes are combined at UCI BMX World Cup races, and at USA BMX nationals.

True or False: There is no more AA Pro Class; it is now known as Elite? FALSE.
When you see “Elite” racing in the USA, it means the race is on the UCI Calendar, else it would be USA BMX “AA Pro.” UCI Calendar events earn individual UCI points for the rider and UCI Nations Ranking Points for his/her country. Elites run one main event at USA BMX events that are also on the UCI calendar. USA BMX Pro Classes (AA, Women, Vet and A-Pro) run three mains.

Any rider 17-over in the USA BMX program can race UCI Junior or Elite, but that rider would be required to turn A-Pro or Women Pro in USA BMX immediately following that race. For example: 17-18 experts racing Junior Men at the Worlds would be automatically turned A-Pro in USA BMX.

A USA BMX “A-Pro” rider who is age 19-over is classified as a UCI Elite, by default (due to age). That rider can, therefore, choose to race A-Pro or Elite at Pro Series Races. When an A-Pro races Elite, they do not earn USA BMX Pro Series Points.

Because “Pro” classes are not recognized by UCI, an A-Pro who does not have one UCI point for the current year can race their age-appropriate Challenge class at the UCI Worlds.

Masters (30-over) is similar to, but not the same as, USA BMX Vet Pro. It is run with Challenge classes at the worlds, but is neither a challenge nor a championship class. The Masters champion is awarded a rainbow jersey of his own, different in appearance from the Juniors and Elites.

The Olympic Games allow riders 18-over to participate–so it is feasible that a Junior could participate in, and win, the Olympics. To qualify for the Olympic Games, all riders must have at least 10 UCI points in the year of the Games.

USA BMX Pro

* A Pro – Rookie Pros. No year-end title awarded. Points are kept, and the top three are moved up to AA Pro the following season. Starting in 2015, there is no “money-out” rule where a rider earning a certain amount is automatically turned AA Pro (instead, it is based on year-end points). There are other ways a rider may move from A-Pro to AA Pro, including applying to self-advance. Check the USA BMX Rulebook (link below) for more.

* AA Pro – Experienced pros – The AA Pro class only runs at the Race of Champions and the Grands since all other pro races are on the UCI calendar (in 2016, at least). USA BMX AA Pro runs three mains. Title and #1 plate are awarded at the Saturday Night Pro Finals in Tulsa on Grands Weekend.

* Women Pro – All professional women. Title and #1 plate are awarded at the Saturday Night Pro Finals in Tulsa on Grands Weekend.

* Vet Pro – Pro class for riders 33 yrs and over. Title and #1 plate are awarded at the Saturday Night Pro Finals in Tulsa on Grands Weekend.

* Pro Open – Friday at every National except North American SX Series races (when Pro Open has been run on Sunday). Allows any USA BMX pro (AA Pro, Women Pro, Vet Pro, A-Pro) to race.

The United States is the only country in the world that has “Pro” BMX racing. All others run UCI Junior and Elite (or some flavor thereof). In 2016 (and for the past several years), all USA BMX Pro Series races during the season are UCI Elite races, meaning therefore, they run only one Main. AA Pro and Women Pro are run, with three mains, at any pro race that is not also on the UCI calendar (usually only the Race of Champions and the Grands).

Women classified as USA BMX Pro can race Pro Open, or A-Pro if there isn’t a Women Pro class.

There is no-such-thing as the “Elite Pro” class for men, “Lady Pro” or “Girl Pro” for women. Those classes are officially known as AA Pro and Women Pro, respectively.

RANKINGS

USA Cycling “Power Rankings” – a ranking system which keeps points for all US elites racing certain UCI-inscribed events. Includes UCI BMX Supercross World Cup events, USA Cycling BMX National Championships, UCI BMX North American continental championships, UCI BMX World championships (Time trial and race day), and has, in 2016, included two of the USA BMX North American SX Series races.

The Power Rankings are on a one-year calendar, bookended by the world championships, both of which are included. Results from the 2015 and 2016 Worlds are included on the Power Rankings calendar ended May 31, 2016 which would have been used to determine the first member of the 2016 Olympic team, had Alise Post and Nic Long not won an automatic spot by placing top three in Colombia.

Points values earned for each race “degrade” over time, so older scores do not have as much value as scores closer to a given ranking event (usually the Olympics). The purpose of this is to reward top performance closer to the event.

UCI Nations Rankings – UCI method that tracks how riders for a given nation score as a group. Helps decide how many elite slots a country will qualify to the world championship.

UCI Olympic Qualification Ranking – A ranking system where nations earn points to establish the number of riders a given nation can send to the Olympic Games. Points accrue on a two-year timetable. The 2016 points were final on May 31 (after the World Championships). Olympic Qualifying points for the 2020 games are expected to start after the 2018 World Championships.

UCI Individual Rankings – UCI Method for determining how many points an individual has. Individual Rankings run from January 1 to December 31 of each year. Used for worlds qualifying, and may be used for Olympic qualifying, if their nation has not earned enough points for a slot. Riders must have at least 10 Individual Ranking points in order to participate in the Olympic Games. Eighth place in any USA BMX Elite main event would give a rider 24 pts, thus enough to satisfy the “10 point rule” for the Olympics.

USA BMX Pro Points – Elites who are also AA Pros earn USA BMX Pro series points, toward the season-end title, and at the same time earning UCI points. The AA Pro race at the Grands is a three-main-event race, and awards the final USA BMX Pro points and usually decides the title for the season.

TITLES
Connor and Alise 2016 USAC EliteThe USA Cycling BMX National Champion is the winner of the single-race USA Cycling Elite National Championship (Women Juniors, Men Juniors, Women Elite, Men Elite). In 2016, this race was on Sunday of Gator Nationals Weekend in Oldsmar, FL. It does not bestow a #1 plate, but the winner is awarded the privilege of wearing the “Stars and Stripes” left sleeve on their jersey denoting the National Champion for UCI member nations, who also have their own “flag sleeve” design. Connor Fields and Alise Post are 2016 USA Cycling BMX Elite National Champions. If there are not enough riders to make a junior class, they are combined with the Elites, but given their own awards and podium ceremony.

Since Elites and Juniors are combined in USA BMX and UCI BMX World Cup races, Junior National Champions can also run the flag sleeve when racing the combined Elite class.

Riders 17 and 18 years of age can race the National Championships as Juniors, but are then immediately turned pro by USA BMX. USA BMX combines Juniors with Elites, so while men can race A-Pro, the women are racing Women Pro/Women Elite for the rest of their career from that point forward (which is likely one reason there are no Junior Women in the USA). The same applies to riders 19-over who wish to race the Elite National Championships. They may do so, but are bumped up to A-Pro following that race (as they would be after any UCI Elite race they enter).

The UCI BMX Continental Champion is the winner of the single-race UCI BMX Continental Championship. The 2016 North American installment of this race was Sunday of the Carolina Nationals in Rock Hill. It does not bestow a number plate or jersey, but does award higher points than the regular “C1″ races on the USA BMX calendar or other nationally-oriented races.

The race is on the Power Rankings chart, and holds the most significance in Olympic years, when every points-gathering event could make the difference between topping the Power Rankings or having to race the Trials. Nic Long and Alise Post are the 2016 UCI North American Continental Champions.

Joris Daudet - 2015 USA BMX #1 ProThe USA BMX #1 Pro title has been widely-considered the highest title in BMX Racing for decades–probably because it requires consistency over time and not just a single-lap win. Joris Daudet and Alise Post are the current USA BMX #1 Pros (2015).

The USA BMX champion can only run their #1 plate at races that are not on the UCI Calendar since, by UCI rules, the #1 plate is reserved for the UCI World Champion. In some years, of course, including this year, both titles are unified in one rider (Joris Daudet, for UCI Men Elite and USA BMX #1 Pro).

The UCI BMX World Time Trial Champion is a title awarded to Women and Men Juniors and Elite, and is based on the individual with the fastest lap time in the Time Trial Superfinal at the UCI BMX World Championships. A Championship jersey and podium award is presented. Time Trial Champions must wear their rainbow jersey during the time trial run at any UCI-inscribed event. Niek Kimmann and Caroline Buchanan are the current UCI BMX World Elite Time Trial Champions.

The UCI BMX World Champion is a title awarded to Women and Men Juniors and Elite. It is determined by the individual winning the main event at the UCI BMX World Championship. The winner of this title is awarded a rainbow jersey, which they must run on race day during their reign as World Champion. They are also awarded the option of running the W1 Elite number plate.

Javi Colombo runs his UCI Rainbow CuffsAfter their reign, UCI World Champions may run rainbow collar and cuffs on their jerseys for the rest of their career to denote that they are former World Champions. Joris Daudet and Mariana Pajon are the current UCI BMX Elite World Champions.

Stefany Hernandez, following her UCI World Championship win in 2015 chose not to run #1, but instead continued running her career number (469). In his first race following the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships, Joris Daudet was running his career number (33) as well. This is permitted under UCI rules, but is thought by some to diminish the prestige and marketability of BMX Racing titles, in general.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Tracking all these interactions took some time to fully unwind, and NEWS would like to thank the following people for their help in making it as complete and accurate as possible: Nick Adams, Bill Curtin, John David and Brad Hallin from USA BMX, Bryce Betts, Jim Buchanan, Connor Fields, Mike Fields, Carl Lein, Donny Robinson and Adrian Sanders.

BMX News will work to keep this document up to date, per the current UCI, USA BMX and USA Cycling rules and guidelines. That said, if you spot an inaccuracy, or something that is out-of-date please email news@bmxnews.com.

Editors Note: There are certain terms in both the UCI rulebook and USA Rulebook that the BMX News “Stone Tablets of Editorial Style” use differently than published in the rulebook. UCI Calls the classes “Women Juniors, Men Juniors, Men Elite and Women Elite.” We choose to call them Junior Women, Junior Men, Elite Women and Elite Men, though we did make the exception just-this-once and call them the “proper” names. USA BMX calls the female pro class “Women Pro,” but we like the editorial ring of “Pro Women” better, so that’s what we use.

Links

2016 USA BMX Rulebook

2016 UCI BMX Rulebook

2016 USA Cycling Power Rankings and Points Table





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UCI BMX Crowns Four World Champs

June 3, 2016 by · Comments Off 

2016 UCI BMX World Champions
By Adrian Sanders and Mike Carruth

In one of the most action-packed World Championships in recent memory, the 2016 UCI BMX Worlds took place last weekend in Medellin, Colombia. What constitutes “action-packed?” Lead changes, unexpected outcomes, come-from-behind racing, etc…all were in abundant supply in Colombia. The Worlds are always a huge event, but World Championships in an Olympic year take on an even-greater significance. The Time Trial and Sunday’s race day are the final opportunities to earn precious points toward Olympic qualifying, both individually, and in some cases, for countries.

For some riders, the only shot their nation has to qualify for a single slot comes down to how they do at the worlds. Even a sixth place in the 1/8 final can mean a qualification spot, as it did for Niklas Laustsen, who qualified Denmark for a spot in the Games with his sixth place in the 1/8s.

For Team USA, the pressure was on in a big way as well. Though USA has a lock on sending the maximum number of athletes to Rio (three men and two women), the individual athletes were competing for USA Cycling Power Rankings points, and the big prize–a guaranteed spot on the Olympic team with any podium finish. More on that later.

The weather forecast in Medellin for Worlds week was drippy at times, and there were several rain delays, in the Challenge class racing, in the practice sessions, and during the racing, itself…but the “Mariana Pajon” namesake track seemed to hold up well.

For those of us stuck back in the States, we got to see most of third round, plus the 1/8 finals- forward once Redbull.tv went live at 4PM Eastern Time (perfectly timed to the end of racing in Nashville). Trace Worthington and Robert de Wilde were in the booth with the play by play.

This was the first race back for Sarah Walker, after breaking her arm earlier this year. Sarah has been plagued with bad luck in recent years, and Medellin was no different, as she crashed hard in practice, injuring her shoulder. She rolled the course in the Time Trial, then started the race and finished out of the qualification spots, ending her 2016 Olympic bid. The next question will be: is that curtains for her career as well?

Things were a bit more sunny for Mariana Pajon who recovered quickly from her own pre-worlds injury–which put a question mark on whether or not she would even be able to race. Well, we will give you a little foreshadow, and say she DID, in fact, race.

Let’s go to the race highlights:

We only get to see world-stage Juniors at this race, since the Juniors and Elites are combined at the World Cup races. Individual countries have their own “national rounds” which do often have Junior, but USA BMX did away with it at our nationals a few years back. So, this is the biggest-and-best opportunity to see who the next headliners will likely be in the Elite Classes. Sam Willoughby won the Junior title, and so did Niek Kimmann. So which of the “class of 2016″ will be making mains in the big class in future years?

Junior Women

Coming off her time trial win Merel Smulders from the Netherlands was looking strong in the semis with a win from start to finish. She was followed by Silje Fiskebekk from Norway and Maria Camila Restrepo from Columbia for second and third place. But that fourth-and-last transfer spot was up for grabs as all the other riders went down on the first straight. Megane Belanger from Canada was able to avoid the carnage and get in for the last transfer spot.

The second semi was a little less action packed but still had a nice high/low pass in turn two, courtesy of Bethany Shriever from Great Britain, who passed Natalia Afremova from Russia to take the semi win.

Now that the Junior women main was set, with eight riders coming from seven different countries, it was anybody’s race. Shriever had first gate pick and chose lane 2, leaving Afremova with lane 1, Smulders would be coming out of gate 4 and Ruby Huisman from the Netherlands was the farthest outside in gate 8.

2016 Junior Women Worlds Main
When the gate dropped Smulders looked as if she was shot out of a cannon from the middle. Shriever was late and ended up going down on the first jump. Smulders would take her lead into turn one followed by the Russian, Afremova, and countrywomen Huisman in tow. It was in turn two that the action took place. Afromova went in low and banged elbows with Smulders, after Smulders would bobble on the double into two. The two got tangled allowing Huisman to go low and race past the two coming out of the turn with the lead. In the end Afromova would get the second meanwhile Smulders would fall back to fifth letting Fiskebekk finish out the podium.

Junior Men
The first Junior men semi had Alex Tougas taking the holeshot, followed by the Netherlands duo of Justin Kimmann and Kevin Van De Groenendall. It was a single-file race until the last straight where Jye Hombsch would just beat out the frenchman Thomas Jouve.

The second semi showed the first glimpse of New Zealand’s Maynard Peel’s true potential at this Worlds. Peel would come out of the gate and immediately unclip. He was in last down the hill, meanwhile Australian Andrew Hughes would take the lead until turn two, where he went down and Frenchman Mathis Ragot Richard would take-up the lead all the way home.

Peel would come back from last to finish third in that semi and qualify into the main, setting the table for a great battle between two Yess-mounted stars and the brother of the reigning World Champ, in Justin Kimmann.
2016 Junior Men Worlds MainWhen the main event gated up, it was once again eight riders from seven different countries (Netherlands had two), fighting it out to be the world’s best.

Tougas was in gate 1, Kimmann in gate 2, and out in 7 was Peel. When the gate dropped, Tougas took charge with Peel in tow and Kimmann trying to squeeze into third in turn one. Kimmann would end his race there after sliding out. All the way around it was Peel hot on Tougas’ first-place heels until the third straight where he caught up and went on the inside of turn three to make an epic pass for the lead.

The move stuck, and Tougas would drop back to fourth by the stripe. Maynard Peel took the top-step as Junior Men world champ. Rounding out the podium was Mathis Ragot Richard in second and Cedric Butti from Switzerland in third.

Elite Women

Semis
Alise Post - Elite Semi 1In semi #1, it was all Alise Post, coming out of gate 3 and charging into turn one, airing it out over the triple in a major way, as the others pumped over it. Caroline Buchanan followed her in second. AP11 held a strong lead the whole lap, and the top three spots (Merle van Benthem as third) were decided early. The action was for the last qualifying spots with Manon Valentino passing teammate magalie Pottier in the last turn for the last ticket to the main event.

The second semi had crowd favorite Mariana Pajon who battled with reigning world champ Stefany Hernandez. It was elbow to elbow for a little bit but in the end Pajon would get the win. Lauren Reynolds was out of qualifying position down the third straight and had to make something happen–fast. Unfortunately, she ended up on the wrong side of Yaroslava Bondarenko’s back wheel, clipped it, and crashed out. Aussie teammate Melinda McLeod took up fourth and the group cruised on home.

We were bummed for Felicia Stancil, who had a bad gate and had to shut it down on the first straight.

Main Event
elite-women-mainGates 1-4 were stacked with Post, Pajon, Buchanan, Hernandez. Any of those four could take the win with a good gate and first straight. But no one could match Pajon’s gate in the main. She shot out and came over on Post, who had a slightly-slower start. The top two opened up a bit of a lead on Caroline, who was running third, as the pack raced down the third straight. One turn to go! Hernandez would get passed in the last turn and go from 4th to 7th place.

Our hearts stopped in the final feet, as Alise bobbled one of the final obsticles on the last straight. Unlike a similar situation at the Manchester SX, however, she stayed on the bike, but gave up her on-lock second place finish to Caroline, and got in for third.

Still, with that third place finish, Alise Post became the first Team USA member to secure a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. She had it on points anyway, but this made it official before the Power Rankings could do the talking on June 3.

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s CompBMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Elite Men
Niek Kimmann won the Time Trial Superfinal on Saturday, so he already earned a rainbow jersey in 2016 to go along with his 2015 Champion model. There were 12 racks of Elite Men racing the qualifying rounds on race day. The top 16 riders got to sit out the three moto rounds and save it for the 1/8s later in the day. Among those sitting out was (not in order): Niek Kimman, Liam Phillips, Sam Willoughby, Joris Daudet, Jelle van Gorkom, Anthony Dean, Carlos Oquendo and Twan van Gendt.

Thinning the racks from 71 starters in the motos, plus 16 auto down to a final gate of eight would be a brutal day at the office for these guys. Byndloss, Posey and Caluag were some of the early-outs in motos; and Herman, Nyhaug, Brethauer, van Gorkom, Upshaw and Campo were some of the names-you’d-know who went out in the 1/8s.

Quarterfinals

In Quarterfinal #1, the world was watching all eight riders, but gates 2 and 3 specifically, waiting to see what Joris and Niek would do. Carlos Oquendo was in gate 1. There was a two-minute-plus delay with the guys standing in the gate ready to rock, but soon enough it was go-time.

Elite Men Quarterfinal 1Joris and Niek were bar to bar down the first straight, with van Gendt and Oquendo all in fourpack-formation into turn one. Jefferson Milano from Venezuela snuck in on Oquendo in turn one and took up the four-spot for a split-second, until he unclipped, rode the top-tube into the big set out of turn one, and crashed in spectacular fashion, taking Oquendo with him. That left Amidou Mir in position to take fourth all the way home for the final Q. Daudet, Kimmann, van Gendt and Mir were moving on.

Quarter #2, gave us a taste of what Sam Willoughby was cookin up for the later laps, Exequiel Torres from Argentina was also looking strong early-on. Sam was first-pick, and chose lane 3. Closer to the inside was Torres and Matt Cameron from New Zealand in lane 1.

Elite Men Quarterfinal 2Sam and Matt C were solidly in the 1-2 spots down the first straight with Torres chasing close. It stayed that way down the second straight, and into turn two, with Torres moving into Cameron’s airspace (above)–it’s a miracle they both made it out on two wheels. Edzus Treimanis was on the bubble as they raced toward the last turn. Not sure what happened to Torres down the third straight, but Treimanis passed him like he was standing still. Renaud Blanc from Switzerland became a factor in the hunt for the final Q, and put a high/low on Torres in the last turn, coming out an elbow ahead down the last straight. It finished up as Willoughby, Cameron, Treimanis and Blanc.

Elite Men Quarterfinal 3The next rack gave us a first-peek at Team USA talent in the quarters, with Corben Sharrah and Tanner Sebesta. Corben was looking good all day, with a 1-1-6 in the motos (the 6, likely owing to a leg-saver since he was sitting on two points), and second in his 1/8, to Anthony Dean. But it was Maris Strombergs who would get the big roar from the crowd (maybe a tad under the volume given to Colombian Carlos Ramirez). The Machine had aces-across in the qualifying motos, and the 1/8 so far.

Maris owned this one from the get-go as well, and into turn one, it was three-abreast, comin in HOT, with Corben on the inside, Frenchman Jeremy Rencurel and Gonzalo Molina from Argentina. Molina dropped back a few seconds later, and The Little Magician, Ramirez, worked his magic to turn a bad start into a bubble-spot out of turn one. That was how it would finish, though it was a photo finish between Rencurel and Ramirez at the line. Quals went to Strombergs, Sharrah, Rencurel and Ramirez.

Elite Men Quarterfinal 4Rounding out the quarterfinals, Team USA had Nic Long in lane 1, with Anthony Dean next to him. Down the gate, Liam Phillips was starting in lane 5 and the W3 of David Graf next to him in 4.

By the clock, Anthony was down the hill first, but Liam’s wheel was in the lead past the first jump, with Nic in second on the prime inside line into turn one. Nic made good use of that track position, and came out of the turn in the lead, with the two Aussies, Dean and Bodi Turner rippin into the second straight. That’s how it would finish, but Graf did mount an impressive late-straight charge to the stripe–but Bodi held him off. Long, Phillips, Dean and Turner were all going to the Semis.

Semis
If champions are made in the main, fortunes sure turn on a dime in the semis. It sounds cliché to say that either of these racks could be a main event at any other race of the year, but it really was true.

Semi 1 had (from the outside) Renaud Blanc, Anthony Dean, Carlos Ramirez, Twan Van Gendt, Matt Cameron, Nic Long, Corben Sharrah and Joris Daudet.

Down the hill, it looked like Dean unclipped, coasting down, and was out of the action from there. Into turn one it was Daudet, van Gendt, Sharrah tight to the inside, and Long. Ramirez actually came out of turn one ahead of Nic, and Blanc edged ahead of him down the second straight, so he had some work to do to get in this main event.

Elite Men Semi 1Into turn two, it was Daudet, van Gendt, Ramirez and Sharrah. Corben was on the extreme inside, and had to cut it hard to make the turn–which unfortunately resulted in him spinning his back wheel, and ending it for him. Nic took up that bubble spot, and it would finish as Daudet, Ramirez, van Gendt and Long. Pretty incredible lap all-around.

With the first half of the main event set, Semi Two had (from the inside): Bodi Turner, Amidou Mir, Edzus Treimanis, Liam Phillips, Jeremy Rencurel, Sam Willoughby, Niek Kimmann and Maris Strombergs.

Elite Men Semi 1Down the first straight Sam and Niek were in the lead, and something strange was afoot, with Maris back in last. Sam was on the outside of Niek into turn one, and then got stuck going WAY wide, allowing Rencurel and Mir under him. Rencurel came out of the turn with the lead, with Niek, Amidou and Sam chasing. It was bar to bar between Rencurel and Kimmann down the second straight, with Sam having some trouble on the middle set, scrubbing-off speed, but still in a qual spot at this point–if he could hold off Liam Phillips.

Elite Men Semi 2Treimanis mounted an epic back-of-the-pack charge down the third straight, swinging waaaay wide-outside to clear Liam and Sam, who were hotly battling for the four-spot. He came through like a rocket sled on rails, blew past Sam and Liam, and came into the last turn in fourth. Rewinding to the first jump, he was in seventh, so great lap props have to go out to him. WOW! With that one semi, Willoughby, Strombergs and Phillips–a solid podium pick for anyone’s scorecard– were out of the worlds main. Semi 2 finished Kimmann, Rencurel, Mir and Treimanis.

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s CompBMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

MAIN EVENT
This is a lap that deserves all caps, even with the three-aforementioned previous champs out of the lineup. As the crowd was still amping-down from Mariana’s big win in Elite women, it was time for the final lap of Worlds week–the Elite Men Main Event.

From the outside: Treimanis, Mir, Rencurel, Long, van Gendt, Ramirez, Kimmann and Daudet. Joris and Niek were the two world champions in the gate (former and current, respectively). Now it was time to get down to crowning a new one.

Elite Men Main EventDown the first straight, it was razor-thin between Joris and Niek, with Joris having the edge–then Mir, van Gendt and Long. Joris was laser-guided to the inside, and set it down smooth into turn one, with Niek, Twan and the rest of the pack chasing his Chase.

Check the shot below, paying special attention to Nic long, who came out of turn one in last. This was definitely not going to be one of those “and that’s how they finished” laps.Elite Men Main - Nic Long

Watching Joris negotiate the second straight, you can practically SEE the adrenaline being held back, as he keeps his cool, and his speed, making sure to not under-jump or over-jump any of the sets (even if he didn’t get such a great backside off the middle set).

Into turn two, it was still Daudet, Kimmann and van Gendt, but Mir rode a tight inside line, and came up ahead of Twan. Long passed Ramirez down the second straight and was in seventh now.

Elite Men Main - Nic LongBut the guys ahead of him swung sharply to the right entering the third straight, which left a whole-lotta real estate for Nic to work with, and he took a similar line to the one Treimanis took in the semi (above), far to the outside, clear of traffic.

Elite Men MainGoing into the last turn, he’s in fifth. Mir and van Gendt faded, and now he had to dispense with Treimanis and Rencurel in order to hit the podium and earn his Olympic team spot. You can see the set-up in this shot.

Joris had it won, and Kimmann was going to get second. Long executed the move on his two targets perfectly in the last turn, and came up with a clear shot to the final podium spot. A last place-to-third place move through the pack. THIS pack? Incredible racing! And, of course, for Joris and Niek as well.

Aftermath
Alise Post and Nic Long were locked in to their Rio Spots. Many others were as well, so the trip was a big success for those riders. Of course for every “thrill of victory” there was an “agony of defeat,” where someone saw their Olympic Dreams dashed–maybe for good.

2016 UCI BMX World ChampionsFor Mariana, we’re sure it was quite a redemption, having going out in the semis last year in Zolder after tangling with Laura Smulders in the last turn. Plus, this one was on her namesake track, in front of an adoring hometown crowd. How could it be any better? (Photo: Santiago Molina / Red Bull Content Pool)

Joris won this title in 2011, so is no stranger to the rainbow stripes. Of course, he is also reigning USA BMX #1 Pro, so he finally gets to run a #1 at the USA BMX races–if he wants to.

It’s hard to call the World Championships a “dress rehearsal,” but the really big show comes in 73 days when 48 BMXers climb the hill in Rio for the 2008 Summer Games. BMX Racing has reshaped itself to the will of the Olympic path, and of the hundred-thousand-or-so racers in the world, the top of the proverbial pyramid has become about those 32 men and 16 women.

Congratulations to all 2355 entrants in both the Challenge and Championship classes who worked hard to qualify, then mix it up in Medellin.

Coming up in the blink of an eye is the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships, here in Rock Hill, SC USA. We hope y’all are planning on making the trip.

Here is a highlight reel that Red Bull put together and posted today–already has almost 700,000 views.


Links

2016 UCI BMX World Championship Results

2016 UCI BMX World Challenge Results


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USA Cycling Announces Elite Worlds Team – Part I

April 20, 2016 by · Comments Off 

2016-
worlds-elite-part-one
The UCI World Championships are just one month away, and the anticipation is building. On the Elite side of things, a lot more than just rainbow stripes are on the line this year as important Olympic qualification points are up for grabs. For Team USA elites, an automatic Olympic team nomination is the carrot that will meet any rider who podiums at this high pressure event. USA Cycling put out a press release on Wednesday, announcing the first eight riders headed to Medellín, Colombia.

Here’s what the official release said:

The first eight members of the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships team were named on Wednesday, nearly one month ahead of the May 25-29 competition in Medellin, Colombia.

Four men and four women were selected to the team, while another two men are still to be named following the May 7-8 World Cup #3 in Papendal, Netherlands.

In addition to potential world titles, Olympic spots are on the line for Team USA, as podium finishes would punch American athletes’ tickets to Rio. Up to three men’s and up to two women’s spots are available to those who podium, and any men’s athlete who places in the top eight will earn a nomination to the Olympic Long Team given that all three men’s Olympic nominations are not decided in Medellin.

Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif./Haro Bikes/Dan’s Comp), Alise Post (St. Cloud, Minn./Redline USA) and Felicia Stancil (Lake Villa, Ill./GT Bicycles) each earned automatic nominations to the World Championships, while the other five selections were discretionary.

Men’s Team
Nic Long (Lakeside, Calif./Haro Bikes/Dan’s Comp)
Justin Posey (Winston-Salem, N.C. / Dan’s Comp)
Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz./Daylight Cycle Co)
Jeffrey Upshaw (Dayton, Ohio/Kuwahara USA)

Women’s Team
Brooke Crain (Visalia, Calif./Haro Bikes/Dan’s Comp)*
Dani George (Palmdale, Calif. / Stay Strong)
Alise Post (St. Cloud, Minn./Redline USA)*
Felicia Stancil (Lake Villa, Ill./GT Bicycles)*

*automatic nomination

The automatic nominations were determined by the those riders placement in the top 16 men and top eight women in the UCI individual rankings as of December 31, 2015.

Automatic nominations do not deduct from the number of nation-qualified spots a federation can send.

According to the 2016 UCI BMX World Championships Competition Guide, the United States has qualified riders in the following classes (in addition to automatic nominations):

Junior Women: 1
Junior Men: 8
Elite Women: 4
Elite Men: 6

The balance of the team will be named after Papendal, which sure is a short runway between races. The NEWS TEAM will follow up with the complete team following their announcement.

Links

2016 UCI Worlds Competition Guide

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

BMX Elites Talk “Risk Vs. Reward”

October 22, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Red Bull Rampage 2015

After last weekend’s Red Bull Rampage in Utah, Mountain Bike Freeriders have begun to ask the question of “risk vs reward.” The event saw several serious injuries, including the (hopefully temporary) lower-extremity paralysis of athlete Paul Basagoitia.

For those of you not familiar with the Rampage event, it takes place in Virgin, UT, and is widely considered the most extreme cycling event in the world. Competitors take single-rider runs, starting at the top of the mountain, then rail down 6-inch wide trails, boulder-dotted declines, giant gaps 60 feet in distance, often with a 50-foot drop in elevation. Oh, and they do insane tricks during their runs, too. Most of these lines are “natural”–meaning cut or shaped by “dig crews” from the terrain already there, and some features are constructed of wood. If you haven’t seen it, check out the highlight video below.

On Monday, Mountain Bike site VitalMTB.com ran an opinion article by Brandon Turman entitled “Opinion: When Does Risk Outweigh the Reward? How Red Bull Rampage Changed Our Perspective” (link below)

The article goes into great depth on the behind-the-scenes preparation for the Rampage event, and how the most competitive athletes now need to bring their own dig crews to develop sections of the course that put their own spin on things. “Sounds like a dream, right?” Turman says, then proceeds to lay-bare all the work and expense involved in getting a crew there, and paying the freight for all of them–before the riding even starts.

“Progression” in the courses is also a factor in that world, as it is in BMX Supercross, with some saying it has reached a point of being “ridiculous.” It’s an odd thing to hear among this crowd; the very existence of this sliver-discipline of Mountain Bike is based on the premise that it is more extreme that the most extreme.

Red Bull has created a venue and a healthy financial reward for the freeride community, complete with international TV, web and streaming coverage. The prize purse for the 2015 event last weekend was $100,000. But, even with that, there is a risk versus reward conversation.

The Vital piece acknowledges input from several athletes, so we might assume their feelings on the subject are represented there. But what about BMXers?

Risk versus Reward in BMX Racing

Risk versus reward was in the BMX News headlines recently, with the rider protest at the Olympic Test Event in Rio. And fans of BMX Supercross have run the risk versus reward discussion over and over many times. But, to this point, we haven’t heard from the athletes, themselves, on this issue.

The premise of a BMX Supercross race is much different than what the Rampage competitors face and, as such, the concerns and motivations of BMXers on this topic are also different.

We posed three questions to a roster of 11 athletes. We received four responses back, from Sam Willoughby, Dani George, Donny Robinson and one response that we were asked to keep anonymous. These responses provide a great insight into how Elite BMX athletes are thinking on this topic, and we greatly appreciate their participation so we have a window into the Elite mindset on this topic.



1). For you personally, is there a “Risk vs Reward” threshold in BMX Racing? A point at which you would say “it’s not worth it,” and stop doing what you do?

Sam Willoughby: There hasn’t been thus far. That being said, I was not at the recent Rio test event, but from what I saw, that was pushing it. It’s not the risk of injury that turns me off but the loss of head-to competition when the course becomes the main competitor.

Anonymous: Definitely. Obviously everyone always wants to progress and become better at what they do, but in a sport where injuries are so common and seem to be getting more and more serious, I’d be lying if I said I don’t weigh up “Risk vs Reward” and sometimes settle on “it’s not worth it.”

Dani George: In anything, there is a risk vs reward threshold and BMX Racing is no different. That threshold is different for everyone but I think once it the risk exceeds the reward, it’s time to take a step back, reevaluate, and perhaps take a different path.

Donny Robinson: At 32 years old, there has only recently come a point where I began to see that what is needed of me to excel in what our sport has evolved in to, might not be worth risking my long-term quality-of-life and transitional success that is inevitable after any athlete’s competitive career.



2). If there is a risk versus reward threshold, what is it? Is it weighted more toward the extreme nature of tracks (if they get too much crazier, it makes it not worth it)? The number of racing stops? The size of the purses (I’m not going to risk my health for $X,000, but for $XX,000, I might be more willing)?

Sam Willoughby: The way our sport is right now, you make more money at USA BMX events with half the risk. Obviously stuff still happens because that’s the nature of the beast. However if you offered anyone in a Casino those odds they would take it all day long. In my opinion though, I have raced many tracks for minimum purse that I don’t agree with, but none have been so ridiculous that I personally felt it wasn’t worth it…YET.

Anonymous: I think it’s a combination of all of those factors. The tracks are getting more technical and making decisions on which lines are “faster” vs “safer” is definitely becoming a factor. As a country without as much government funding, and with a deep level of competition, we have to race a lot to stay competitive and financially able to continue this career path. Racing that much makes it harder and harder to compete under fatigue how gnarly the tracks are. I think you already see people making some decisions of which races to hit based on the financial gains. There is not a lot of money in our sport, so injury bills can add up. Buuuuut, with that said, I definitely think people are more willing to risk things the bigger the potential reward is.

Dani George: Like I said, that threshold is different for everyone so I’m just going to voice what it is for me. Personally, when someone mentions “Risk vs Reward” I think too many people automatically think that money is the reward for taking the risk in question. In BMX Racing specifically, especially at the Elite level, there is so much more reward than just the money. I think that being able to travel to world is a reward. So is the opportunity to compete at the Olympics and earn a medal for your country. What about the fan base you create and the kids that you mentor? Or striving towards the goals you set and achieving them? And the fun we have? It’s all extremely rewarding.

As a side note, I do believe in the increased pay. Not because of the risks we take, but because of the money we bring in. We deserve bigger payouts because we are the faces of the sport and provide the entertainment. Kids race because they want to be us one day. Without us, all this money wouldn’t be coming in.

Donny Robinson: As I look back on what I’ve been so thankful to achieve, I realize, to add more accolades to my resume, I would need to win a more prestigious Olympic medal, or, win the USA BMX Pro title. To do that, however, would mean I would need to race on what is becoming the standard – increasingly-technical SX tracks, where the precedent has been set that those races will be run in nearly any kind of weather, all while competing amongst a field of ever-talented, young, and hungry riders. That task might be worth it if I were still making a living wage from sponsors, winning races, or just not facing repeated injuries – but I’m not. There will always come a time where riders choose, or are forced, to leave this sport. My love for this sport still has a hold on me, but I hope I can make the choice to exit sooner-than-later, so that I might not jeopardize my ability to use my off-the-bike talents and passions to help others in the future.



3). When we talk about “progression” we are usually referring to the nature of tracks, but maybe not as much the WAY the sport is run and administered. Do you see a need for “progression” in ways other than track-specific details? If so, please specify.

Sam Willoughby: YES YES YES AND YES….. The tracks in my opinion have maybe 20% to do with progression but the other 80% comes from the “show” and the presentation of the sport. Take NASCAR for example (as I am a huge fan of this sport). Talladega is still the same track Dale Sr. raced 20 years ago. However the equipment has advanced, the formats changed, The TV package has grown as has fan involvement.

Another one is (AMA) Supercross, they are still jumping the same 70ft triple that McGrath and Larry Ward did. But the show and the equipment have become better… Could those 450s jump bigger? Yeah, they could, but who cares; it’s not a long jump comp, it’s a race, therefore the race should be the focus, because the naked eye could care less if the rhythm is 10-feet deep or 5 feet deep… they just want to see a close race and they want to be entertained, on the TV package and live at the show. I think the 8M BMX Supercross hill is great in some respects but maybe our sport can’t afford it? Could those millions of dollars being spent to build BMX SX tracks be better spent growing the sport???

Anonymous: Yes. I think sports will always naturally progress over time, simply because of time elapsed and the level of competition rises with each generation. However, there needs to be changes made in location, set up, and admin of races that cater to fans and TV in order to grow our sport. As the demographic base and following of our sport grow, more money can filter in and help with the progression of the tracks and the “risk vs reward” factor. People outside of the sport don’t know enough about it to this point to understand the progression of the actual tracks. They do understand exciting, close racing though.

Donny Robinson: Progression is a main talking point in action sports and what seems to almost be a necessity to keep athletes and fans engaged. BMX Racing has worked on visual progression through events and layouts like X-Games Downhill, SX tracks/World Cup circuit, and of course, the Olympics, which were all supposed to bring in more fans, sponsors, money, and legitimacy to our sport – but have they? Maybe a better “progression” model for our sport should viewed in terms of the future it can provide for its participants. You can now use your talent in BMX Racing to earn a college scholarship. So, what if more riders were able to then transition to a pro racing career, where the sport was healthy enough to provide a living wage to many, not just the lucky-few?



It’s a great discussion, which we will all watch with enthusiasm (and react to with our opinions) as the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle becomes Tokyo 2020. Stick with BMX News for more on this topic as it develops.

Thanks again to the Elites that responsed to our questions, so we could bring you the BMX perspective to this long-standing question.

—Mike Carruth

Video

2015 Red Bull Rampage Highlight Reel

Links

Vital MTB: “Opinion: When Does Risk Outweigh the Reward?”

#irideforpaul on road2recovery.com


Comments





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French Indoor Series – Tours

March 9, 2015 by · Comments Off 

French Indoor Series - Tours

The French indoor series rolled out the blue carpet in the City of Tours (about 150 miles South of Paris) this weekend. The event was back in town for the first time in nine years.

Here are the Elite Men and Elite Women’s main events.

Romain Mahieu (Chase BMX) had a great run from the outside, and even though it looked like Vincent Pelluard (in green) was going to get it, Mahieu edged ahead in the first turn. The blue racing surface was unusual, and the amount of pedaling/lack of speed held around turns reminded us of an 80s race (which, depending on your BMX politics could be a good thing or a bad thing–we’re split here in the BMX news Global Command Center).

There was little-to-no manualing happening in either class, which leads us to believe the surface may have been slow–like we sometimes encounter in the US. We harken back to one of the last NBL Christmas Classic races, where the racing surface was like crusty brown marshmallow and had about two inches of “give” under your tire. People were pumping with everything they had just to make it around.

In France, it appeared as though the Elite Women almost stalled-out in the last turn.

Elite Men Final



Results
1. Romain Mahieu
2. Romain Mayet
3. Vincent Pelluard
4. François Vidal
5. Quentin Caleyron
6. Thibaud Chauvin
7. Arnaud Chauvin
8. Jeremy Rencurel

Elite Women Final



Results
1. Mariana Pajon
2. Axelle Etienne
3. Laetitia le Corguillé
4. Magalie Pottier
5. Mathilde Hugot
6. Charlotte Devolder
7. Megane Lajmi
8. Manon Valentino

When there’s no doubt, share it out:


Links

2015 Tours Indoor – Full Results





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Fields and Post Plus-Up Friday Night Format

February 21, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Connor Fields wins Day 1 in Phoenix

The new Friday-Saturday format for pro racing debuted at the Winter Nationals. It was interesting, exciting and a bit frustrating, all at once. With 53 Elite Men and 21 Elite Women on the hill, there’s no question that it brought an element of “show” to the normally-ho-hum Friday night pre-race.

This was an especially-large pre-race—about as large as last week’s national in Florida, at 150ish motos. As a result, it went til 10:15PM. Add in getting some food, maybe a shower to wash the Black Mountain off of you, and it was Midnight before lights out. That’s a tough Friday night, considering Saturday is likely to go late, too.

By the time Connor Fields hit the finish line on his winning pro main lap, most of the parking lot had emptied out– but about 25% of the crowd stayed behind to see every last lap, the munchkins and the mighty, alike, do their thing.

Of course there was some incredible race action between the first pro gate of the night and the last.

Elite Women had a few new faces, with Shay Glynn, Carlie Ferree, Kelsey Van Ogle, and Rachel Mydock. But there is no question that the Old Guard is still well in charge of the class, with Alise Post and Brooke Crain getting tons of lead rider calls from the tower.

Rachel Mydock at the 2015 USA BMX Winter Nationals
First-time Elite Mydock (above) did win the very-first Elite lap of the 2015 season, however, which is one of those “moments-in-history” things. Ferree was toward the front in more than a few laps as well, so we are looking for her to make some big moves as she gets settled in.

In the single-lap UCI main event, it was Alise, Brooke and Belgian Elke Van Hoof to stand on the new-for-2015 USA BMX podium.

Elite Men had some heartbreak mixed in with the action. Some good lead changes down the fourth straight of the long Black Mountain track. Justin Posey had 1-1-1 going in to the quarterfinals, but missed getting to the gate on time, later telling News:

“I never heard them announce ‘Pros to Staging.’ I only heard the first quarter being announced, from the pits. Tough lesson, for sure.”

Sam Willoughby was atomic all evening long, and it looked like he could very-well get the first win of 2015 on Friday night. Of course, Connor Fields was also having a great evening.

When the two met in the semis. It was the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Both came out of the middle, with Connor in gate 4 and Sam in 5. They were closer than peas & carrots when they went into turn one at Warp 9. Hard to say what happened next, even with the benefit of G-Mo’s awesome video sequence of the situation (below). Both stars, super-close. Looked to us as though Sam just landed funny off the jump leading into turn one–while others said it was a lean-in battle. Whatever it was, it took Sam down to the dirt, and left Connor an open track ahead to do his business.

The wreck took down three of the eight riders, and Sam had an injury to his hand–no word on how bad, but he is racing on Saturday, so .

After all-but-the-expert mains of the pre-race, the two Elite mains ran, with the aforementioned finish of Post, Crain and Van Hoof on the podium for the women, and for the men, Connor had an awesome lap, but was pressed by Nic Long and Corben Sharrah. This was the first time in quite a while we had an all-American Elite Men’s podium.

Alise Post Wins on Day 1 of 2015 Winter Nationals

BMX News 2015 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

A Little Ditty on the New Format
As we were driving back to the hotel, we had a few minutes to pause and reflect on the new Friday night pro format. There were some bright spots to it–some “pros,” if you will, on the pros/cons list. But there were some aspects that were not as good as the traditional Sat/Sun format.

Time will tell if the gravitational-pull of the pros can lift the Friday night pre-race up to the next strata, and make it something families will want to stick around til 9 or 10 at night to see. Or if the Friday night pre-race pulls the pros down to it’s level of being a lower-wattage opener to the more important racing on Saturday and Sunday. Will the magnetic-poles of BMX stardom flip, making less-expensive-to-sponsor A-Pros more attractive, since they can race at every national, AND might be inclined to race all three days at Elite races; versus the much more limited exposure of the Elites?

The Elites need elevation. They need BETTER exposure to the families who buy the bikes and parts that allow the industry to fund pros. Seeing them race in the shadows, then disappear into the deep-darkness of the pits til next round may not be the way to accomplish that.

From an audience perspective, not everyone is in town yet on Friday night–hence the reason for Saturday sign-ups and practice. It was strange seeing the Elite mains running at 10 at night, with 75% of the people who were there for the first gate already gone.

With the pros now out of the picture (and presumably on their way home) on Sunday, arguably half that facetime opportunity to meet fans is gone. Will this prove to be an unfortunate culture shift for the sport, or a new age of making “Elite” more elite, through scarcity?

—Mike Carruth

BMX News will have more from Black Mountain BMX as Day One of the 2015 USA BMX Winternationals gets under way. meanwhile, take a gander at our photo gallery from the Friday night pro race.

Links

Photo Gallery 2015 Winter Nationals Elite Day 1


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