Towering 28 feet in the air and boasting a steep 27-degree slope, the new supercross start hill at Exhibition Park is indeed, as Abbotsford BMX club president Steve Baxter puts it, “pretty intimidating.”
The intimidation factor is more of a drawing card than a deterrent, of course. The new-look track saw its first major competition this past weekend, as more than 100 BMX enthusiasts traveled to Abbotsford for the final two races of the Western National series.
The juniors and elite male classes used the supercross start hill, and the facility drew rave reviews.
“People were just blown away,” Baxter enthused. “They thought it was just fantastic, and they were really happy that Canada has a world-class start hill and facility of that magnitude, so the top riders don’t have to travel to the States or to Europe to train. They found the racing very exciting and very interesting.”
The supercross start hill – nearly identical to the one constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – was built at a cost of about $260,000, which was covered through a variety of grants, fundraising initiatives, and volunteer labour.
Top riders from Canada and the United States are training at the track with increasing frequency, and Baxter said there are tentative plans for the Japanese and Dutch national BMX teams to travel to Abbotsford for training camps at the track.
Originally, a B.C. Cup race in early June was supposed to mark the new start hill’s competitive debut, but inclement weather washed away that possibility.
Clayton McDonald led the way for the Abbotsford BMX club on the weekend, winning the 16 expert male class during Saturday’s Western National Race No. 9, and winning again during the double-points series final on Sunday.
Other local riders to register top-three finishes included Landon Timmerman (13 expert male, third Sat., second Sun.), Elanyna Macaskill (7 novice male, second Sat., third Sun.), Daylen Lakovic (8 expert male, silver both days), Zachary Frier (12 expert male, silver both days), Amanda Landers (junior female, third Sun.), and Baxter (cruiser 40-44 male, third both days).