Predicting the USA BMX Grands with Laura Smulders and Niek Kimmann

Images by Kirby Cronk & Fifteen

Predicting the USA BMX Grands with Laura Smulders and Niek Kimmann

Images by Kirby Cronk & Fifteen



It’s almost Thanksgiving weekend in the USA and that can mean only one thing … the 2020 USA BMX Grands are about to go down and it’s inevitably going to be the largest race of this crazy, covid ravaged year despite lacking a major international contingent, for obvious reasons.

While the race is happening in the same Tulsa, Oklahoma, venue, over the usual weekend, we can expect it to be a little different this year.  Practice will be a one-day affair, Wednesday the 25th, with a one-hour slot for the Pros starting at a late 9.15pm. The idea of the Wednesday practice is to try limit the amount of time spent in the venue and possibly facilitating an earlier finish each day. There will be no crowding around moto sheet boards this year either, you’ll need to pull out your phone and go check them online. Other Covid 19 restrictions over the long weekend include, mandatory facemasks, sanitation stations, repetitive surface cleaning etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile, the pits, other than a single directional flow, will remain pretty much the same as previous years. As far as racing goes, the big difference, and the one which will add excitement, if not anticipation, to the Pro ranks, is the dash for the No. 1 plate for the year … the ranking will be determined by the ‘Friday Night Pro Championships’ and only the Friday night event. While the usual contenders will remain favourites, the nature of BMX means that anyone, or almost anyone who racks up in a Pro class on Friday night could possibly ride away with the USA BMX Number One plate and a pile of cash … expect lots of moves, lots of contact, lots of surprises …

Niek Kimmann and Laura Smulders - Fifteen BMX

With the year we’ve all endured it’s hard to know who’s going full on Elite fast and who’s rolling into this year’s Friday night event in winning form. Some have been racing the Pro Open events consistently while some of the heavy hitters have been a bit of a mystery as of late … rather than us base predictions off Instagram hype we hit up two of the World’s fastest, the Netherlands Niek Kimmann and Laura Smulders, for some insight and maybe even a little inside knowledge …

The fact that you have to race three mains make luck less of a factor,’ Niek told us, ‘you just have to be good and consistent. For me Joris, Connor and Corben are the three favourites, as always really. If it were one main, I’d give them equal chances. But, for three mains, I think Connor and Joris are a bit more consistent’.

When considering that some have much more racing under their 2020 belt than others, Niek is still picking the usual contenders … ‘I do believe that riders who raced more this year might be closer to the level of Connor and Corben. But still, I believe Connor and Corben are professional enough to make sure they’re in shape, and even though they haven’t raced in a few months, they’ve raced for over 20 years of their life, so they’ll know what to do’. The flat hill and tight track probably won’t make a difference either, ‘the top guys these days are good on any track. However, I feel like on the real flat start hills, Joris is on another level.’

Joris Daudet USA BMX - Kirby Cronk
Alise Willoughby Florida Oct 2019 - Kirby Cronk

The Women’s Pro class is probably a little easier to predict, purely based on numbers and Laura is hoping the Queen of BMX shows up to mix it up a little, If Mariana decides to show up, which I hope she will, I think it will get a bit more exciting. I think Mariana is back, she was going fast in Verona, she’s been training for some time in Europe and then went back home. I think for people in Europe, the only way of getting into the USA for Grands was to travel through somewhere like Colombia. For Mariana this is normal of course, so I hope she’s going to Tulsa, it will produce some good racing action!’ But Laura is also conscious of the likely track … ‘The USA BMX track does suit the powerhouses more than the technical riders, definitely off a low hill like that. It’s more about pedalling than skills.’

When it comes to predicting the ultimate winner, Laura is thinking the same as the rest of us, but one race for the title could come down to pure willpower and not just horsepower, ‘I think Alise will win, but I also think Felicia is on it at the moment, so she could give Alise some good competition, hopefully!’

When pressed on a winner in AA Pro, Niek is going for the probable only European in the class, ‘because there hasn’t been many races, it’s hard to judge who’s got the edge, but Joris didn’t race last year, so I guess he’s hungry for this one, so I’d put my money on him.’

We hope to have the USA BMX Live feed for the Friday Night Pro Championships on Fifteen so make sure to check it out here or over on the various USA BMX outlets if you’re not travelling to Tulsa … hopefully we get to see lots of unexpected Pro straight dashes in the Pro Women and some of the amateur ranks … as Laura put it ‘I like how they can choose pro straight or amateur there, it makes for some funny and weird choices sometimes haha’


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2020 USA BMX Grands Schedule