Two Okotoks BMX Club members didn’t gamble on their future in Las Vegas, instead they made an investment in the upcoming season.
Briony Fokkens, 14, and Ryan Mysek, 15, turned in solid performances at the Silver Dollar Nationals in Vegas Jan. 12-14, which featured top riders from the United States as it is the first event of the season south of the 49th parallel.
“I wanted to try something new and this gave me some real good competition,” said Mysek, a Grade 10 student at Holy Trinity Academy.
Fokkens, who was third in the province in the Female 14 expert category in 2017, had one aim in Vegas.
“I like racing people who are better than me,” she said.
Fokkens found herself competing against the boys down in Vegas. She was the first Intermediate female in the U.S.A.-Canada series. By the time she got to Nevada, there were a few other girls who had made it by the Vegas races.
“Girls usually aren’t as aggressive as boys,” Fokkens said. “It intimidated me to race the boys, but it was a good intimidation. I like racing the guys, because it just makes me better.”
She was able to make the “main” — the finals — in 14 Intermediate on Jan. 13. She finished seventh.
“I was just happy to be racing against those guys, when I made my main, I was ecstatic,” she said.
She didn’t qualify for the finals in the 14-year-old open the next day, but it was a good lesson.
“I definitely feel like I know what I need to work on for my next races,” the Okotoks Junior High School student said. “I have to work on my gates and my corners.”
Mysek was second overall for 14-year-old Intermediate in the province and seventh overall in his age category last season.
He had some success in Vegas, making it to the finals in all three days of racing in the 15 Intermediate class. He won the final on the last day of racing (each day of races is a brand new day of racing).
It took some adjusting to riding in the States.
“They were very good riders and a lot more aggressive,” Mysek said. “I was kind of ready for that because I have raced Americans in B.C. I just had to be more aggressive and leaning on other people.”
He was a quick study.
By the final day of racing on Jan. 14, he won the 15-year-old Intermediate division.
Mysek also made the 15-16 main in the open division on the final day, going up against expert riders. He finished seventh out of eight.
“I ended up between two riders and my back tire ended up sliding and I had to put my foot down,” he said. “That slowed me down a bit.”
Fokkens and Mysek have put in the time in the off-season. Prior to Vegas, they were training regularly at indoors facilities in Olds and Calgary. They have also been doing core and cardio exercises with Okotoks personal trainer Jill Matthews.
Mysek hopes to make the jump to expert by mid-season in 2018. He needs a handful of wins to make the move.
They are both aiming for strong finishes when their own Okotoks BMX Club hosts the Grands (the provincial finals) Sept. 8-9.
“I went to Vegas thinking that it will be similar to Grands,” Mysek said. “Grands has all the best riders there and so did Vegas.”
Fokkens can’t wait to race against the best on her home track.
“I love going to other places to race, but having it on my own track is better,” she said. “I have better skills on my home track.”
The pair will next race in the Seattle area in April.
For more information about the Okotoks club go to okotoksbmx.com