Is it weird? Yeah. Well, I take that back. No. It’s just new. New to us, that is. US Olympians have been using these tools for many years and have a whole lot of medals to show for it. With freestyle BMX officially becoming an Olympic sport, it only makes sense that - if they so choose - these riders will have access to all of the same things.
In addition to access to The Olympic Training Center, USA Cycling is also supporting the athletes financially. Pending their placings throughout the year, the athletes will land in one of three tiers. The top-tier athletes will receive benefits like fully-covered travel and even paychecks (a little over $2,000-per-month). All of the riders can receive monetary bonuses with good performances at major events. To put it lightly, all of the riders were stoked at the opportunity to receive more much-needed support.
While this sounds great - and it is - the USA Cycling National Team is reevaluated quarterly. If a rider continues delivering favorable results, they have potential to grow with the team. If their results are less than stellar, they may fall to a lower tier of benefits or even be removed from the team entirely. There’s a good chance that the team in December of 2018 will look drastically different than this recently-announced team.
Also, on the flip side, if riders not currently included from The United States are able to make a big impact, they can earn their way onto the team throughout the year. Competition is brutal!
While freestyle is young at USA Cycling and the majority of the people within the office walls are just starting to get familiar with it, I found my experience there enjoyable and promising. They don’t know much and they know they don’t know much. They’re open and they listen. That’s huge. If these guys came in thinking they knew how to run things, the entire US program would surely suffer. The higher-ups admit it’s a work in progress and, as time moves forward, I think we’ll be seeing more positive things coming from the crew. Also, before you ask, I did discuss a freestyle training facility with USA Cycling. There aren’t currently any solid plans in place, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw something before The Olympics in 2020.
The future is bright.
Thanks to USA Cycling for having me out and congratulations to all of the riders on taking their next formal steps in this new direction.
Kyle Carlson/Vital BMX