The year in BMX, 2012
BMX -- 2012 Year In Review
The holiday season is upon us, and it seems as though 2012 is soon drawing to a close. Within the realm of BMX, it's been a wild ride of ups, downs, some more downs and a few awesomely placed nac-nacs in otherworldly locations. What follows is short reflection on the high and low points of the year that was BMX in 2012.
Year of the full-length video
With top notch DVD releases from the Salt Lake City crew ("Killjoy"), Empire BMX ("Bad Idea"), S-Luck ("Love It or Leave It"), Skapegoat (Skapegoat 6"), Animal Bikes ("QSS 4"), The Hunt ("Gold Rush"), AM:PM and Cult ("Talk Is Cheap"), no one can deny that the full length BMX video made a triumphant return for 2012. Scores of web videos were released each day of the year, but the full-length DVD experience continues to deliver to the worldwide BMX audience. The Hunt and Animal Bikes also made the jump to digital downloads of their full-length videos. All in all, a great year for BMX videos.
Mike Tag, 1974-2012
In mid-April, FBM BMX pro and street-riding influential Mike Tag lost his battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Following intense chemotherapy and an outpouring of support from the BMX world throughout 2011, Tag ultimately succumbed to the disease in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 37. To everyone he touched, he remains an invincible force -- a force that never compromised who he was and faced every challenge with the utmost bravery. A force that stared down triple-kinked handrails with ease. And a force that inspired all of us to be better people. In memoriam, FBM re-released a new version of his signature frame, the Night Train. The first batch sold out within days of its release.
Hoffman inducted into Hall of Fame
In June, BMX vert, street, park and industry legend Mat Hoffman was among the recognized inductees into the 2012 National BMX Hall Of Fame. Hoffman entered under the "Freestyler" category. Hoffman's contributions to BMX reach far beyond his many vert-inspired firsts on a BMX bike. He was the first rider to grind a handrail, he helped pioneer stronger bikes and components in the early '90s, and he resurrected BMX freestyle contests in the early '90s. A National BMX Hall of Fame nod is an esteemed honor, but judging by his achievements, Hoffman deserves his own wing in the ever-evolving museum that is BMX history.
Garrett Reynolds five-peats twice
In June, Garrett Reynolds ventured to X Games Los Angeles, fell behind in points early on and then emerged in his final run to blow everyone away in BMX Street. When the scores were announced, Garrett Reynolds won his fifth consecutive gold medal in BMX Street. No one else has ever won BMX Street at X Games. In September, Reynolds continued his five-peat streak with his fifth consecutive Ride BMX Magazine NORA Cup Street Rider of the Year award. Others have won it before Reynolds, but no one in the 16-year history of the awards has earned the title five times in a row.
Just when it seemed like Jamie Bestwick finally might have some challengers in BMX Vert, he reminded everyone at X Games Los Angeles what it meant to be untouchable. He led the contest by 14 points to complete just the second six-peat in X Games history in June. Bestwick's runs included new combos (downside tailwhip to turndown) and older tricks he had on reserve, including the flair double whip. Later in the summer, Bestwick won vert at the Dew Tour Beach stop with ease, taking his eighth consecutive overall BMX Vert title at the Dew Tour. No one else has ever won a Dew Cup, and at age 41, Jamie Bestwick remains unstoppable on the vert ramp.
Maris Strombergs wins 2012 Olympics
BMX racing debuted in the Olympics in 2008, and Latvia's Maris Strombergs walked away with the gold medal. In 2010, Strombergs suffered a broken hand, dislocated wrist and damaged shoulder at an ABA race. He required six months of downtime and two surgeries, and eventually rebounded. As the London Games approached, Strombergs remained calm and collected. He breezed through qualifying and semis with ease, and took home his second gold medal in August. To date, Strombergs owns two of Latvia's three Olympic gold medals. "No doubt in my mind that this was mentally the toughest race I have ever been part of," said Strombergs.
Randy Taylor, 1986 - 2012
In August, BMX Randy "The Don" Taylor of Forth Worth, Texas, was found dead at home. He was 26. Taylor had breakout sections in videos such as Mutiny's "Stoked On Being Pumped," "Road Fools 17," and clips in "Let's Get Mystical," as well as a jaw-dropping 2008 video bio in issue 69 of Props Video Magazine. Taylor's riding was as well-rounded as it could possibly be. He was no stranger to technical flatland-inspired combinations on street, but was also never afraid to fire himself down huge handrails or tailwhip what was arguably the biggest set of stairs to date on a BMX bike.
Brett Banasiewicz crashes
One week after winning the 2012 Dew Cup for BMX Park, DK pro Brett Banasiewicz crashed in Virginia Beach, Va., and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He remained unconscious for 15 days and eventually traveled to Atlanta to begin rehabilitation. After leaving Atlanta, Brett returned home for Thanksgiving and then entered the second phase of rehabilitation in Dallas. He is expected to make a full recovery, but his injury brought attention to the use of non-CPSC-certified helmets in BMX contests. With the help of the Athlete Recovery Fund, X Games and other competition organizers will now require the use of CPSC-certified helmets. Stay strong, Brett.
Fit releases BF-It documentary
Not since "The Birth of Big Air" has anyone given serious documentary-worth attention to anything within BMX. That changed this year with the release of "BF-It," a documentary style look at the life and career of Fit Bike Co. pro Brian Foster. Foster's BMX career began on the race track, but morphed in the mid '90s to include dirt jumping, trail riding and skatepark riding. By the early '00s, Brian Foster had become a formidable pro on the street, trails and park scene, which he continues to maintain at a high level to this day. Filmed and edited by Stew Johnson, "BF-It" is a must see documentary in the realm of BMX.
Kyle Bennett, 1979 - 2012
In October, 2008 U.S. Olympic BMX team member Kyle Bennett of Conroe, Texas was killed in a single vehicle auto accident near his home in Conroe. He was 33 years old. Bennett was a three-time UCI World champion, three-time NBL champion and 2009 ABA champion. He was also the first BMX rider to qualify for the United States men's team when BMX debuted at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In late November, USA BMX called Bennett's bike up to the gate in a memorial celebration. Kyle Bennett may no longer be with us, but his legacy and influence perseveres throughout the BMX race community.
Matthias Dandois, VIP treatment
Matthias Dandois entered 2012 as a pro flatlander, and will exit the year as one of the most well-rounded flatland riders quickly expanding his repertoire into the realm of technical street riding. Mixing technical flatland moves into street lines, Dandois spent a good portion of 2012 documenting his newfound hybrid of street riding and flatland for videos from Red Bull. And earlier this month, Dandois made a big move to the Haro BMX team. Though he doesn't limit himself to just flatland anymore, he is the first flatland rider to rep Haro in close to a decade. And for all that and more, we're giving him the VIP treatment in 2012.
Chad Kerley, VIP treatment
Earlier this year, Chad Kerley's riding was featured in breakout web videos alongside professional skateboarder Theotis Beasley for Markit BMX, as well as a Nike BMX San Antonio, Texas trip, which to date has over 200,000 views on Vimeo. And that was his first half of the year. In recent months, he was introduced to the Vitamin Water team by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, earned his first X Games gold medal at X Games Shanghai, and a silver medal in BMX Street at X Games Los Angeles. If that wasn't enough, Chad also threw his hat in the ring at contest organization, with the Chad Kerley Vitamin Water Invitational at The Bakery in Chicago. And oh yeah, he graduated high school too. VIP only seems appropriate.
Chase Hawk, VIP treatment
Earlier in the year, Chase Hawk showed all of BMX what he was capable of in the Empire BMX DVD "Bad Idea." He could boost, he had style, his 360s are unmatched, and his section was one of his best to date. Then he came back with another full-length video section in Cult's "Talk Is Cheap," and instead of pursuing the route he went for the Empire DVD, he slapped some pegs on and delivered a section of burly and technical street riding that was just as stylish as his riding in the Empire DVD. Chase may be the rider everyone wants to watch on the park course at X Games, but he's also one of the most well-rounded BMX riders of his generation, and for that, we're giving him the VIP treatment in 2012.