Riders with the Pemberton BMX Club showed up to the track on Tuesday with their trophies from the recent BMX Canada Grand Nationals in Chilliwack, and there’s no denying that it was an impressive collection. The event took place over three days, and some of the racers came away with trophies from all three days.
“A lot of kids are going to be building trophy shelves in their houses after last weekend,” said Graham Turner of Pemberton BMX.
The final tally:
In the opening double points race on Friday, Bendigo Stager, Christopher Beaton, Travis Benns and Jessica Turner placed first in their respective novice age categories. Sean McIntosh was second, Graydon Petrie third and Steve Petrie second. A handful of athletes also earned enough points this season to move up to the tougher intermediate class, where Robbie Tribe placed fourth, Lucas Cruz second and Tegan Cruz third.
On day two, Stager won again, Lucas Cruz was first, Chris Beaton second, Sean McIntosh third, Robbie Tribe fourth, Tegan Cruz fourth and Jessica Turner third. Ryan McIntosh also qualified for the main event in intermediate.
In the Canadian Grands on Sunday, Stager made it a hattrick, while Christopher Beaton earned his second win. Lucas Cruz was second, Tegan Cruz third, Robbie Tribe third and Ryan McIntosh fourth.
Austin Turner, just three years old, also competed in the run-bike categories where all athletes were given gold medals.
“It was our first time there (Grand Nationals) and apparently it’s the biggest race in Canada,” said Turner. “Riders from all over the U.S. and Canada were there and it was top-level competition.”
As for how a club that has only had a functioning track for less than a year did so well, Turner couldn’t say.
“I think part of it is just looking at Pemberton, and things like the dragon boat team — those guys kick butt every year and they train in a puddle,” he said. “If you look at recreation there’s not much going on, so kids are out at the track every Wednesday and working hard at it. And it just so happens that the skill level and the dedication of the kids in Pemberton is quite high, but we really didn’t know how we ranked.”
Turner also pointed out that most of the racers are just starting out and competing at the novice level. Things will get harder as more kids move up to intermediate and higher. The club only had 10 sanctioned racers this year, said Turner, and club members will need to start racing every week to keep moving up and progressing through the age groups.
Turner hopes that having so much success this early will result in more members — they’re already over 100 — and help fundraising efforts to buy a new start gate and extend the track to make it a little longer.
“I think this is going to motivate more kids to get out there, and right we need to get more girls and more women into racing,” he said. “At the same time it’s an Olympic sport — it’s not just pedalling a bike around, there are places to go with this sport.
“The other side of it is that the fine bike-handling skills you get from BMX translate straight to mountain biking, and all the top downhillers on the World Cup have a BMX background. And it’s a family sport as well — mom races, dad races, all the kids race and everyone is there in a combined space. You’re not sending kids out onto the trails (like in mountain biking), everyone is hanging out together and volunteering to fix the track, and it’s a great community thing to do.”
Turner also welcomed the progress that the Whistler BMX Club is making towards building a track as well.
“I know they’re working hard to get a track together, and when they do we’ll have a pretty good circuit. If that happens we can have more races in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, and there will be a bunch of new points available for kids to move up through the ranks.”