London Games track to be renovated
After the 2011 Olympic Test Event at the Olympic Center in London, U.K., there were obvious concerns about the design of the track. A major factor was the "split first straight," where the men would be taking a line on the left half of the track, including a 30-foot jump over the women's first turn, giving lanes 1-4 an inside advantage as the men in the outside lanes would have to drift across the track. The women took the right half of the track, giving the riders in lanes 5-8 an advantage while the women on the inside would have to drift over. Another main concern was the height and length of the first couple of jumps on the first straight.
After much discussion within the BMX community in the six months since the test event, the Olympic Committee decided to make some changes. London 2012's Director of Sport Debbie Jevans told Reuters "The reason that we run these events is to make sure that we get it right at Games time," adding that a number of the athletes participating in the event failed to make it though the course.
From the perspective of someone who was at the event, it was obvious that the first straight was way too big. And when the men hit the gate, the failure rate was on par with most other Supercross races on the circuit. But since I didn't ride the track, and will likely never ride a Supercross track, I shot a message over to the Men's winner of the 2011 Test Event -- New Zealand's Marc Willers (BOX/DK/Burger King).
"The jump itself wasn't so bad, it could obviously use some tweaking," said Willers. "My biggest beef was the terrible 90 degree turns the box was stuck between." Prior to the race going off, the box jump seemed like it would kill the racing along with any momentum for passing, until the main event went down. In the main event, Willers took the jump and third straight three-wide with Sam Willoughby and World Champ Joris Daudet as they chased him for the win, proving that the track is perfectly raceable.
BMX racing made its debut to the Olympics in the 2008 Beijing Games. At the time, that track was considered insanely big, but has since become the norm for Supercross races around the world. For the time being, the planned changes for the new portion of the 2012 London Games track remain undisclosed.