A group of local BMX racers were part of history Saturday, as Saskatoon hosted its first Saskatchewan Cup and provincial series races in nearly 20 years.
The event is a major milestone for a sport that was all but extinct in the city for the better part of a decade.
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In 1997 Saskatoon hosted the BMX World Championships, establishing the city as a hot sport for the sport. However the years that followed saw a sharp decline in local participation, largely due to the closure of the city’s only track.
Recently, BMX has made a comeback thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and a growing number of young riders.
“It’s really fun. I’m glad I got the opportunity to join and I’m probably going to stick in it for further years,” said 15-year-old Devan Doucette, who has been riding BMX bikes for a few years but only started racing competitively in 2016.
Veteran racer Makenna Foster, 14, remembers a time when fellow BMX riders were few and far between.
“It’s so exciting this year to have 120 racers. We’re doing really good. There was only four of us when I started,” she said.
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The key to the turnaround was the opening of Globe BMX Raceway in 2010.
The track, located next to the Lakewood Civic Centre, is on city property but maintained by the riders, their parents, and other volunteers. The Raceway was established as a club with roughly 15 members and has since grown to 120, ranging in age from three to 50.
The provincial races serve notice that Saskatoon is officially back on the BMX map.
“Everyone’s looking at us. Alberta BMX cannot believe what we’re doing here in this city because their numbers are staying stale. We’re growing every year by leaps and bounds. We are the talk of this country right now,” said race coordinator Erik Foster.
BMX racing has been an official Olympic sport since the 2008 Games in Beijing, and that has some local riders dreaming big.
“I’d never really thought about it that much, but going to a national level would be cool if I could get proper training,” Doucette said.
Raceway president Dennis Rennie feels it’s only a matter of time before someone from Saskatoon is wearing the Maple Leaf.
“I think if a lot of these kids starting now stay with it, I’m pretty sure we’ll see an Olympian coming out of Saskatoon in the near future,” he said.
A future that once again looks very bright.