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Red Bull Elevation a long time coming

‘First of its kind’ event designed to reflect progression of BMX jumping

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At 34 years old, Coquitlam’s Jay Miron has very little to prove in the world of BMX biking. He’s personally invented over 30 tricks in vert ramps and park, including a double backflip and backflip variations. He also has nine X Games medals to his credit, as well as podiums in just about every pro contest from the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s.

Still, Miron is not resting on his accomplishments, either on his bike or as an entrepreneur with MacNeil Bikes and Ten Pack Distribution. Lately Miron has taken it upon himself to redefine his sport by creating a contest that will give the top riders in the sport an opportunity to show just how far the sport has progressed.

This weekend, Aug. 25-27, Miron is producing the inaugural Red Bull Elevation BMX dirt jump competition, which will take place at the base of Whistler Mountain. The course took weeks to build and shape, with more than 50,000 cubic feet of dirt and 15,000 pounds of supporting concrete going to create two unique lines. The final jump will transition right into the village itself.

Red Bull put up a $30,000 prize purse for the event, but most riders are coming for one reason only – to ride a course that’s bigger, burlier, and more rider friendly than anything they’ve ever seen before.

"I got the idea at the second X-Games when I was sitting at the gate and not having any fun," said Miron.

"I came up with an idea for a different kind of contest that would be better for the riders.

"Nobody really had faith in the idea… but when Red Bull came to Canada I went to them with it and they were able to support me. Thanks to them we’re going to pull it off, it’s all going to happen."

While the X-Games and Gravity Games courses were fun to ride, Miron found that the layout of the jumps lacked flow and limited the kinds of tricks that the riders could pull off. The Whistler course is modeled after the courses that the riders themselves choose to build, using downhill slopes to build and carry more speed into the jumps. There are also two distinct lines for different styles of riding.

"I think BMX has been stuck in a rut for the last couple of years, maybe eight years or so," said Miron. "The sport has progressed but the competitions are really the same old thing and it’s really holding back these top riders… from laying it down and doing their best stuff.

"I always wanted to give the best riders in the world the best place to do the best riding they can do, and I think we’ve achieved that with Red Bull Elevation."

Miron estimates that 16 or 17 of the top-20 riders in the world will be in Whistler this weekend. A few riders are out with injuries and one has to sort out visa issues in the U.S., but otherwise all the top names have committed to the competition.

In total there will be up to 60 spots available, and Miron expects a minimum of 50 riders.

So far the list of talent includes: Austrialia’s Corey Bohan, and two-time X-Games champion; Kye Forte of Great Britain, the current World Champion; Stephen Murray from Great Britain; American riders Ryan Nyquist and Chris Doyle; and Romauld "Bibi" Noirot and Alex Dropsy of France.

Miron also extended an invitation to B.C.’s Darren Berrecloth, who has won or placed in every mountain bike slopestyle event this year. "He’s just an amazing rider and I had to insist that he come back to BMX for this event to represent his home turf," said Miron.

While the best of the best will be in Whistler to compete, Miron expects at least one of the podium spots to go to riders that don’t do well in conventional dirt jump contests but like to go huge.

"That’s the great thing about this course," he said. "If you’re a good jumper but not that smooth a rider technically, you’re not going to do that well. If you’re smooth rider but not the best jumper, you’re not going to do well either. There’s about 30 riders out there that do both things very well, and they’re not always the guys that win all the contests."

The event is free for spectators and organizers are expecting a crowd of thousands to turn out for the finals on Saturday, so get there early to get a good spot. The competition is also being filmed in high definition for television.

The sport of BMX is enjoying a resurgence recently, especially in Europe and Australia. BMX racing was also added to the Olympics for 2008.

With a few more events like the Red Bull Elevation, Miron believes the sport is poised to explode.

"For the last three or four years BMX has been getting bigger and more popular, but there’s always been something holding it back, people who don’t want it to change," said Miron. "Elevation should really shake things up, what’s what and who’s who in BMX. It’s going to be a reality check for a lot of people, and it’s going to show a lot of the non-believers that we can go bigger and get better.

"Best of all, I think a BMX fan can be anywhere from eight to 80, it’s still fun to watch."

Miron doesn’t want to call any tricks, but believes competitors will definitely be pushing the boundaries in Whistler. Some of the tricks currently winning contests include twisting backflips, double backflips, double spins, front flips, and combination tricks with grabs, no-footers, and tailwhips.

"I hate to call tricks out because you never know if it’s going to go down or if someone is going to get hurt or whatever, but I can say it will be as big as anything that has ever been done before," said Miron. "If you’ve ever seen BMX on TV, dirt jumping or a demonstration or anything like that, this is going to be substantially bigger and better."

Schedule:

Aug. 25 – Riders Practice Session, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Aug. 26 – Qualifiers, noon to 6 p.m.

Aug. 27 – Finals, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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