Sports » Upcoming

Pemberton to host BMX provincials

Cruz family excited for races at home track



Lucas Cruz's dream is to become a World Cup downhiller.

But his roots are in BMX.

After a season heavily focused on mountain biking — downhill, enduro and a slew of Crankworx's specialty events — Cruz will come back to where he got his start as Pemberton hosts the provincial championships from Sept. 23 through 25.

Cruz, 15, raced downhill on the B.C. Cup circuit this year, won the U17 expert men's category at the Canadian National Downhill Championships in July and also competed at Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, Calif., taking fifth in his category in the downhill. While BMX wasn't a major focus for him and he's not in contention for any overall titles provincially or nationally, he's still looking for some strong showings this weekend.

"I didn't really follow the provincial series this year because I was so busy with mountain biking but I just like to have fun and show my speed at home and have fun on the track," he said. "(BMX) is a foundation for all sorts of biking and it really helps me with technique and learning all sorts of skills for mountain biking."The 30-second sprint of a BMX race really helps for the final sprint of a downhill race."

However, the Cruz clan still has something bigger to race for as younger brother Tegan, 11, sits third in the country in the national age group standings, and a strong weekend will help boost his case going into next month's nationals in Chilliwack.

He's glad to have a familiar course on which to ride as he makes his charge.

"I'll have all my friends come up and ride my home track so I'll have a little home-track advantage," he said. "It has a good gate so it's really fast."

Tegan has had a strong summer on the track, including taking second at nationals in Calgary this year and qualifying for next summer's World Championships in Rock Hill, S.C.

Pemberton was awarded the race based on its rider retention, club growth and competitor improvement. It was second based on the provincial criteria, but the top club was an even smaller one without the ability to host the number of riders expected.

While track operator Graham Turner said the track would be stretched to its limits, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so the community has come together to make the races a go.

"It's a lot of work," Turner said with a laugh. "It is a heck of a lot of work for our little town to absorb this many people looking for camping and everything else.

"I wasn't sure if we could handle it either, but my hand just went up thinking about the Whistler track going in and this might be one of our only opportunities to host such a big event so we went for it."

Roughly 250 riders, including about 50 from the Pemberton club, are expected for the double points races on the event's final day, with competitors from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Interior all expected to come challenge for the No. 1 plates that will be handed out when the dust settles.

"We have such a strong team coming out of such a little town," Turner said.

Turner is also helping to bring the riders together on Saturday night, hosting a "family dinner" at the Pemberton Community Centre for over 200 people.

"There's not really a lot of places to eat in Pemberton and I want to keep them here, keep them out of McDonald's," he said. "We're serving them Pemberton beef and Pemberton potatoes and I don't think you get that at a lot of the bigger-city tracks. We're trying to build something pretty special here."

He also noted the club is trying to make agreements with local landowners to secure camping for visitors, as the track is unable to provide sites like many others are.