In 1997, Saskatoon played host to the World BMX Championships, marking the height of the sport in Saskatchewan.
But after two decades, a local team and track are looking to build a provincial team to not only build the sport back up but also produce the highest level of talent possible.
The track: Diamond BMX Club’s track at the Prairie Oasis Park in Warman, Sask.
The man: club president Niall Schofield.
“I (en)visioned this when I was a little rider, and it’s here,” Schofield explained. “I guess the saying is true, if you build it, they will come.”
After completing the revamped track in Warman, Schofield began brainstorming ways to continue the growth of the sport in the province.
Settling on a high-level provincial team, his club, Diamond, held evaluations over the May long weekend in Warman to bring out the best and brightest locals in the sport.
“Our tagline here is building future Olympians, and by gosh, we’re going to build an Olympian at this track and at this club,” Schofield said. “We’re going to send somebody to Team Canada, and they’re going to race at the Olympics.”
Saskatoon-native and veteran expert racer Chase Rennie was one local who participated.
Rennie is no stranger to track success as one of the top-10 ranked riders in the 17-24 class in Canada.
“(Racing in Saskatchewan), it’s expanding, we’re getting more funding into the programs and stuff,” Rennie explained. “It’s really good to see it grow in Saskatchewan because 10 years ago, there was nothing out here.”
Rennie has spent over a decade riding competitively and sees the construction of this team as groundbreaking for the sport in Saskatchewan.
The team will be comprised of riders from multiple age groups, allowing for the older, more experienced racers, like Rennie, to pass along their knowledge to the next generation of Saskatchewan BMX talent, giving them further help to reach their maximum potential.
“We’re getting hundred of kids out now,” he smiled. “There was only four us at the start and it’s really good to see it grow exponentially every year.”
“When you learn on a track like this, with people like this, it’s just night and day for the riders,” Schofield echoed. “Their skill level, their confidence, their interactions with other kids, it’s just an amazing thing to watch unfold.”
The young riders didn’t just have the older kids trying out to look up to, they also have a guest racer help out with a few technical pointers, like pumping through a rhythm section.
The guest, 10-year-old Brady Mitschke, already has an amazing array of accomplishments in his four-year career.
The expert rider is ranked second in the country and ninth in North America in his age group, having competed across Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Despite his lengthy resume, the youngster was impressed with the track in Warman.
Read more: Saskatoon BMX club pushing for new track
“It was really smooth, when I got on I said it’s a 10-out-of-10, cause the track’s amazing,” Mitschke said. “It has a lot of areas to pedal, and a lot of jumps that I can do, it’s awesome.”
When asked what a track like this can do for young up-and-comers in Saskatchewan, he said:
“This track, it will help them a lot, it’s really awesome.”
Aside from their obvious skill, the team is also looking for specific character traits for those hoping to make the team.
“Be a good role model, be a good influence, and engage with the younger riders to inspire them,” Schofield said. “That’s why we built the team.”