Hundreds of BMX racers gather in Eagle
EAGLE — Chris Emma, 54, is chasing a state title. So is 3-year-old Dana Nolta.
Both competitors visited Eagle from out of town on Sunday to take part in the state championship qualifying race at the BMX track in Eagle.
Emma came in from Boulder and battled it out with his rival, local father Tim Sargent.
“We’re in a points chase, and I came out here to push him back a little,” Emma said on Sunday. “It kind of backfired, though, he just gained a point on me.”
Dana Nolta will turn 4 in November, and peddled her way around the track in a full-on competition. Her mother, Kristi Nolta, said they came in from Thorton with Dana’s three siblings, two of which also compete in BMX.
“We just can’t keep her off the track,” Nolta said.
CAN’T KEEP OFF
It’s a feeling many riders share, which is why the sport has grown in popularity to the point where it is now an Olympic competition.
With tracks across the U.S., any rider can work their way up through regional qualifiers like the one that took place in Eagle on Sunday to make it into state-level and even national competition.
The sport’s bragging rights are built into it; the plates on the front of a competitors bike tell others whether he or she is competing at the district level, the state level or the national level and where they are ranked within those levels.
Compete and do well in enough state-qualifier competitions like Sunday’s, and you’ll earn a state plate for your bike, which is one step up from a district plate.
With Sunday’s event being part of the national-series Gold Cup, riders from outside of the state are enticed into the competition, as well, and Sunday’s start list saw a couple of out-of-state competitors.
FUN BUT FIERCE
Some competitors camped out in Eagle on Saturday, many rented hotel rooms and at the start of the races on Sunday the community atmosphere of the sport was present throughout as tents and shade canopies were filled with families eating, playing and enjoying the competition.
But the hard side of the sport was on display, as well.
Eleven-year-old Chente Anderson, of Grand Junction, took a hard fall.
“Earlier, in practice, my peddle got a little loose,” he said. “Then in the race I came unclipped and fell off … you wouldn’t think that you need to check your peddles.”
After falling hard enough to require stitches, 8-year-old Evelyn Steinburg, racing against boys and girls, came back in her final race of the day and won.
“That was one of the coolest things on the day to see,” said track operator Jay Lucas. “Her mom got her bandaged up and she came back out and gave it her best.”
Top-level riders were also attracted to the event for the $1,000 prize purse that was given out in the pro-am competition.
Five-time world BMX champion Collin Hudson came in from Boulder to take down the prize.
He competed against a few locals including his teammate at Colorado Mesa University, Bjorn Bredeson, and Jonah Zeigler who, at 17, is preparing to turn from the expert to the professional division in the sport.
“There’s many colleges now that have BMX,” Zeigler said. “But I think I’d like to go to Mesa, that’s a big goal for me.”
Hudson received a scholarship for BMX and is now able to attend college through the sport.
“I was about a month out of graduating high school, and all my friends were going to college, so I called Mesa and asked about their cycling program,” Hudson said. “It worked out that I got some help from the school. I’m studying business marketing with an emphasis in social media analysis.”
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.