June 18, 2009 (Ottawa, ON) – Olympic team members Sam Cools of Airdrie, Alta., and Scott Erwood of Surrey, B.C., headline the 2009 BMX cycling nationals scheduled for June 20-21 at the Kingston BMX Track in Kingston, Ont. Apart from crowning Canadian champions, the competition will also determine a selection pool for the senior and junior teams for the BMX world championships scheduled for July 23-26 in Adelaide, Australia. Canada can field three men and three women in senior competition at the worlds and two men and one woman in the junior category.
Cools is Canada’s top-ranked international rider in the women’s event. She is a multiple age group world champion and last year was fifth at the world championships and seventh at the Olympic Games. She was ranked No. 1 in the world in early 2008.
Her top rivals for the national crown include 20-year-old Danielle Brisson of Abbotsford, B.C., and Kaila Sweeney of Airdrie.
On the men’s side, Erwood renews his rivalry with Calgary’s Jim Brown. Last year the pair squared off for the coveted Olympic spot in men’s BMX with Erwood earning the trip to Beijing. At the Games, Erwood advanced to the quarterfinals.
In junior competition, 17-year-old Tory Nyhaug of Coquitlam, B.C., will garner plenty of attention. His spectacular riding skills have already earned him the attention of the international BMX community. Alex Sailer of Airdrie is another junior-aged rider on the rise.
A group led by British Columbia’s BMX Director Adam Muys. redesigned the Kingston track last year rebuilding areas to keep the riders flying. The pro section is going to be the main line of the race, so it will not only be fast, but very high-flying for the older riders.
“It is one of our top tracks in Canada,” said Nicholas Vipond of the Canadian Cycling Association. “It was fully redesigned last year and this year was reworked a bit. It is very challenging.”
BMX cycling has existed since the 1970’s and made its official Olympic debut last year and was a hit. BMX races are held on circuits of around 350 metres, that include jumps, banked corners and other obstacles. Up to eight riders compete in each heat. The daring manoeuvres executed by the riders keeps spectators on the edge for every race.
“The Olympics have increased the awareness of the sport,” said Vipond. “The TV coverage from the Games showed that this event is spectacular and entertaining. There is a real buzz about these nationals that we haven’t seen in Canada before. It’ll be interesting the see the crowd turnout for the nationals.”
In all, more than 300 riders are expected to compete in various age categories ranging from five-year-olds to Masters’ classes. Action gets underway Saturday at noon and Sunday at 11 a.m. Admission is free. Bleachers and grandstands will be setup around the track to provide spectators with the full viewing experience.