BMX racing is pretty straightforward. It’s flat-out racing, every man or woman for himself trying to be the fastest around the course. Riders start from a high drop and then attempt to be the fastest to negotiate their way around tracks featuring funky jumps, banked corners and other obstacles.
Eight riders compete in each heat of the Olympic BMX races, which are held on a track usually around a quarter-mile (350-370 meters) long. That means a good rider will take only about thirty seconds to get through the course.
The Laoshan BMX Venue is rippled with jumps, one huge berm down the stretch from the start and three smaller berms. It would have been more challenging if it had more ‘cross to the course, but this is good for a start. Above is an artists rendering from the official Laoshan Venue website.
USA Cycling, which oversees road racing and athletes like Tour de France contender Levi Leipheimer, is also the national governing body for BMX. They are sending eight riders to the Beijing Supercross, all expenses paid. These 8 will be hoping to qualify for a place in the finals.
There are 48 slots for BMX athletes; 32 for men and 16 for women. Only three men and two women from each of the top countries will qualify; the U.S. is the world’s top ranked country in BMX.
Four initial heats are run with the starting field of 32 male riders and 16 in the women’s event. The top four finishers in each heat then move up to the next level. This means there are four total rounds in the process to determine who’ll be standing on the medals podium at the end of the day.
The American athletes are four men: Donny Robinson, Kyle Bennett, Mike Day and Randy Stumpfhauser; and four women: Amanda Geving, Kim Hayashi, Krystal Hime and rising star Jill Kintner.
Kintner will be the one to watch. She is already a BMX/mountain bike star; she’s won the prestigous Crankworx Bikercross, two BMX World Cups and a NORBA mountain bike race, and took the win in the Australian National Mountain Bike Championships. She also won the August 4th Jeep King of the Mountain race in Park City, Utah.