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Is it time to back off the Olympic track thing?
Elvis
post Aug 15 2021, 04:51 PM
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We keep getting closer to killing someone, and I'm beginning to wonder if we're not creating BMX Rollerball. Whaddaya' think? Time to get the Olympics mondo tracks back down to human levels?

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K Robison
post Aug 16 2021, 05:14 AM
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In a word, yes! While eliminating the big hill alone won't fix everything, it will help with the ridiculous speeds some of these crashes happen at. I personally think even the am hill for the World's is taller/steeper than necessary. The perfect size hill in my opinion is Powder Springs.

As for the rest of the SX track, I am in favor of some of the recent changes where jumps can be rolled. Taking some of the speed away from the big hill would keep people from overjumping and may shrink some of the jumps

Ken
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MikeCarruth
post Aug 18 2021, 09:16 AM
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Thing is though: I don't hear any upspeak from the athletes themselves. No frank and honest interview from Connor saying "it's time to throttle-back the tracks."

Strictly speaking, the track in Tokyo WAS rolled back quite a bit from the London-era tracks (the shipping-container-bike-toss of the first Papendal, and berm jumps abounding). Then the one time the athletes DID speak out--the Rio test event. Since then, I feel we have been on the other side of the curve.

The IOC and UCI are pushing "progressive" policies (as we call them in the US...not sure what they call them in Euroland) to make the mens and womens course the same. Maybe that's a step in the direction we're talking about here.

The long-standing story is that BMX racing was admitted to the Olympics "by accident" year ago. The shot-callers THOUGHT they were admitting an "extreme sport," but instead got us. So, it was decided to introduce the big hill, and make the track more burly as a means to increase the speeds and the "excitement."

Johan Lindstrom was the man charged with implementing those features as UCI BMX director, and Tom Ritz was his builder...we saw that vision progress through 2016. Johan was gone from Aigle by then, but Ritz continued their work long after the GSX collapse, and into private practice.

I am not sure if that story is true, but it sort-of fits the narrative of "how the heck did we get here?" From the classic BMX track and shallow hills, to the silicone-implanted, botox and lip filler tracks we have today.

But until and unless the ATHLETES say "enough," it's going to be the same ol' cookin.

The athletes were only allied 100% twice in the history of BMX, by my book, so I don't give it a whole lot of likelihood.

Connor has talked about his myriad injuries, but never once made any noises like the track was at fault. I don't expect he will, either.

As Hyman Roth said in Godfather II, "This is the business we've chosen."


Best,

M
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ihailfromohio
post Aug 18 2021, 11:22 AM
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To add to this, I believe I recall watching an interview where johan talked about the big hill origin. from what i remember, the downhill world cup tracks were the staple for world cup/world champs and even the O show moving forward, because it was gnarly, of course. but for it to be able to be brought to an olympic village it had to be built without a massive hill or a mountain, so they added the big hill to simulate the speed the guys were getting on the downhill tracks.

QUOTE (MikeCarruth @ Aug 18 2021, 10:16 AM) *
Thing is though: I don't hear any upspeak from the athletes themselves. No frank and honest interview from Connor saying "it's time to throttle-back the tracks."

Strictly speaking, the track in Tokyo WAS rolled back quite a bit from the London-era tracks (the shipping-container-bike-toss of the first Papendal, and berm jumps abounding). Then the one time the athletes DID speak out--the Rio test event. Since then, I feel we have been on the other side of the curve.

The IOC and UCI are pushing "progressive" policies (as we call them in the US...not sure what they call them in Euroland) to make the mens and womens course the same. Maybe that's a step in the direction we're talking about here.

The long-standing story is that BMX racing was admitted to the Olympics "by accident" year ago. The shot-callers THOUGHT they were admitting an "extreme sport," but instead got us. So, it was decided to introduce the big hill, and make the track more burly as a means to increase the speeds and the "excitement."

Johan Lindstrom was the man charged with implementing those features as UCI BMX director, and Tom Ritz was his builder...we saw that vision progress through 2016. Johan was gone from Aigle by then, but Ritz continued their work long after the GSX collapse, and into private practice.

I am not sure if that story is true, but it sort-of fits the narrative of "how the heck did we get here?" From the classic BMX track and shallow hills, to the silicone-implanted, botox and lip filler tracks we have today.

But until and unless the ATHLETES say "enough," it's going to be the same ol' cookin.

The athletes were only allied 100% twice in the history of BMX, by my book, so I don't give it a whole lot of likelihood.

Connor has talked about his myriad injuries, but never once made any noises like the track was at fault. I don't expect he will, either.

As Hyman Roth said in Godfather II, "This is the business we've chosen."


Best,

M

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bnd
post Aug 18 2021, 01:37 PM
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QUOTE (Elvis @ Aug 15 2021, 10:51 PM) *
We keep getting closer to killing someone, and I'm beginning to wonder if we're not creating BMX Rollerball. Whaddaya' think? Time to get the Olympics mondo tracks back down to human levels?


Hey you overfed, longhaired, leaping gnome........

BMX Rollerball, that would rule!

I don’t have an issue with the Oly tracks, as a matter of fact this year was the first time we really got into it and followed it closely. I like that they made it longer. They could certainly make some tweaks with spacing of obstacles but other than that, I’m good.
It’s too bad those massive bleachers weren’t full of screaming locals, going off like if Cheap Trick were performing.

b.
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thebondtrader55
post Aug 20 2021, 03:59 PM
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QUOTE (MikeCarruth @ Aug 18 2021, 10:16 AM) *
Thing is though: I don't hear any upspeak from the athletes themselves. No frank and honest interview from Connor saying "it's time to throttle-back the tracks."

Strictly speaking, the track in Tokyo WAS rolled back quite a bit from the London-era tracks (the shipping-container-bike-toss of the first Papendal, and berm jumps abounding). Then the one time the athletes DID speak out--the Rio test event. Since then, I feel we have been on the other side of the curve.

The IOC and UCI are pushing "progressive" policies (as we call them in the US...not sure what they call them in Euroland) to make the mens and womens course the same. Maybe that's a step in the direction we're talking about here.

The long-standing story is that BMX racing was admitted to the Olympics "by accident" year ago. The shot-callers THOUGHT they were admitting an "extreme sport," but instead got us. So, it was decided to introduce the big hill, and make the track more burly as a means to increase the speeds and the "excitement."

Johan Lindstrom was the man charged with implementing those features as UCI BMX director, and Tom Ritz was his builder...we saw that vision progress through 2016. Johan was gone from Aigle by then, but Ritz continued their work long after the GSX collapse, and into private practice.

I am not sure if that story is true, but it sort-of fits the narrative of "how the heck did we get here?" From the classic BMX track and shallow hills, to the silicone-implanted, botox and lip filler tracks we have today.

But until and unless the ATHLETES say "enough," it's going to be the same ol' cookin.

The athletes were only allied 100% twice in the history of BMX, by my book, so I don't give it a whole lot of likelihood.

Connor has talked about his myriad injuries, but never once made any noises like the track was at fault. I don't expect he will, either.

As Hyman Roth said in Godfather II, "This is the business we've chosen."


Best,

M

What we really need is for leadership to say enough. Always shocks me when I think of the lost money/opportunity costs of the last few decades.

It didn't have to go this way - it really didn't.
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thebondtrader55
post Aug 20 2021, 04:07 PM
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QUOTE (Elvis @ Aug 15 2021, 05:51 PM) *
We keep getting closer to killing someone, and I'm beginning to wonder if we're not creating BMX Rollerball. Whaddaya' think? Time to get the Olympics mondo tracks back down to human levels?

It's past time. This style racing has not accomplished what was hoped for back in the day. We have a big enough sample size now to know this.

I'm a huge Connor Fields fan from way back and would be just as entertained watching him ride a Grands style sane track as what SX racing offers now. I'm still afraid of what could have happened!

The leadership just got this one wrong.

There's no shame in being wrong, the shame is in staying wrong.
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John De Bruin
post Aug 21 2021, 12:01 PM
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BMX has been my full-time day job for the past 13 years, so you might expect me to automatically toe-the-line with all things BMX as being positive. My Dutch ancestry means I am also pragmatic and weigh things on a cost/benefit ratio though. Here's how my family view modern-era BMX:

It's great that both my kids experienced BMX at a younger age than I did. It's such an impressionable time of their lives. The magnitude of seeing them bear-hug a trophy taller than them is immeasurable. They both moved up, clipped-in, and had some fun, but the cost v. benefit ratio suddenly changed by quite a bit. I noticed, and so did they.

Though they are older teens now, I still use verbal comparisons from racing to real-life difficult scenarios. All of the lessons they needed to learn were learned in novice class. For anything beyond that, it's time to look elsewhere (which we did).

So I've taught them my core believe that modern-era BMX racing is really a "novice sport". I'll bet USABMX knows when most people leave the sport, and I'll guess that it was the same time we did.

I've told my kids that the other sport I considered for them back at the beginning was hockey. Both IMO are real contact sports not for the faint of heart like soccer or baseball (an important aspect for teaching life-lessons). I once went to a hockey game up-north in Wisconsin in an old barn (arena) with a bunch of 40-year-old ex-NHL-wannabee's and saw two full brawls break out simultaneously...one on the ice and one in the stands...with cops flooding the place shortly after. I doubt those 40-somethings were worried about broken collarbones or (in my case) broken pelvis in 2 places, 2 broken ribs, and hip shattered in 6 places. In terms of a cost/benefit ratio, hockey has a longer shelf-life with less life-impacting detriment. But you actually experience the same exact risk as a 17 year old expert in BMX, which is just plain-ol' too scary as a parent.

When my kids have kids, I'm pretty sure they will consider BMX and hockey for all of the reasons I laid out. But BMX in it's present format will be for novice class only. Take all the good, but know when to move on is what I've said.

Re: Olympics, let's be frank. BMX in the Olympics did a lot of good for the sport. On the other hand, BMX is a "participant's sport" and absolutely a terrible spectator sport. Nobody outside of BMX gives two-sh*ts about BMX. In-fact, the Olympics in-general have had global viewership declines for the past three decades. To a big degree, nobody cares about the Olympics anymore. How many host cities have lost billion$ in the last few decades. The writing is on the wall. BMX racing in USA could have an opportunity to reinvent itself for the next generation (whatever that may be) after it exits the Olympics.

This post has been edited by John De Bruin: Aug 21 2021, 12:08 PM
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John De Bruin
post Aug 22 2021, 07:24 AM
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It occurred to me that I may not have clearly made the connection with "Olympic tracks" and my kids racing. The point was that "Olympics" has (wrongly) driven too much of this sport. It's not that Olympic tracks have gotten too dangerous...it's that all tracks have ridden this wave of "bigger is better" and gotten too dangerous.

And I'm curious, why we are only worried about Olympians?

I don't know of anyone who has died yet on an American BMX track, but I do know at least 2 people have died on Australian tracks in the last 10 or so years. And they weren't Olympians on Olympic tracks.






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Elvis
post Aug 23 2021, 09:11 AM
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QUOTE (John De Bruin @ Aug 22 2021, 08:24 AM) *
It occurred to me that I may not have clearly made the connection with "Olympic tracks" and my kids racing. The point was that "Olympics" has (wrongly) driven too much of this sport. It's not that Olympic tracks have gotten too dangerous...it's that all tracks have ridden this wave of "bigger is better" and gotten too dangerous.

And I'm curious, why we are only worried about Olympians?

I don't know of anyone who has died yet on an American BMX track, but I do know at least 2 people have died on Australian tracks in the last 10 or so years. And they weren't Olympians on Olympic tracks.


It occurs, people have died in downhill events for years. Has there been any re-think in that space over time?

Meanwhile, well yeah, you can get killed if everything goes wrong on a sportsman BMX track, but on the whole it's still safer than skateparks.

I think to Mike's point, if the riders don't speak up nothing will change. The flip side here being if you're a sponsored athlete competing at that level, I have to wonder how much free speech is available?
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