Photos: Fat Tony.
The 2015 World Circuit series is shaping up nicely, with Bike Days and Barcelona both going off in Europe! All eyes now turn to Round 3, which takes place at the annual Voodoo Jam in New Orleans, USA on July 25th. I caught up with the organiser Scott O’Brien to talk about what he has in store for the event, the vibe of the event, the next generation, judging, contest formats, his memories and expectations and a whole lot more, read on!
Hey Scott, Voodoo Jam 2015 fast approaching! Of course the Voodoo jam can’t happen without support. Who are the main sponsors that are helping you make Voodoo happen?
We are stoked to announce this year that 360 Fly is our title sponsor. Couldn’t do it without sponsors of course and we are forever grateful for the support. Red Bull, Tiger Balm, Purple Monkey, Flatlandfuel, Dans Comp, Torque Apparel, Raising Canes, Deco BMX, ATI Clothing, Reklamation Bikes, The Byke Project, Neue, Terra Dome Research Center, Monolithic BMX.
Generations Hall is a tight riding area which makes the atmosphere electric, almost like a boxing match type feel, is that something you guys deliberately brought to the table?
I’ve always had a vision of Flatland being close enough to spectators, so everyone can feel the energy. This location certainly adds to the event. I’ve done many events around the world, and it’s just hard to match the energy when everyone is close like that at Voodoo Jam. We did Voodoo Jam at a different location in 2006, and it just wasn’t the same. Generations Hall is an amazing atmosphere for sure.
We have spoken privately about the importance of bringing through kids in the contest scene, something Japan does really well. What do you have planned for this year to help kids get a taste of the contest scene?
Honestly, we have to do something besides Voodoo Jam for youth. Riders in the USA need to start camps and clinics in my opinion. I wish I had the means to do more at Voodoo Jam for the youth, but the problem is there is not enough youth riders to compete. I would love to have an 18 and under class, but I’m not going to get enough riders. Would be rad to turn the first week of Voodoo Jam into a camp for kids and the pro riders could share their knowledge with the kids, but I just don’t have the means for this, it’s a dream I’ve always had.
I hope to inspire young BMX riders with Voodoo Jam and this year an 11 year old Japanese rider is coming to Voodoo. I hope his riding can show others what is possible, if you make BMX Flatland your life.
What format for the contest are you using this year?
I’m gonna stick to the same thing we did last year. Regular 2:30 qualifiers. Top 12 riders go into a Final 2:30 run. Top 3 will then have a battle for podium positions. I will still have a discussion with a panel of riders to make sure we are doing the right thing here. We may have a few tweaks, but I’m gonna stick with that. Original format from 2004 by the way. I don’t really like the head to heads anymore, there’s way more negative then positive with head to head battles. I have some great ideas for future contest formats, I’m just not ready to bring it out just yet, but I have surveyed some riders and they loved it. It will take the right situation to bring it out but I think its going to work great. In time we will have the perfect contest for my new idea to come out.
Quite a few seasoned Ams have made the step up to Pro, that leaves a big chance for an Am rider to make name for himself?
I’m happy about this. It can never be perfect and we can argue over classifications all day long. Sometimes you just gotta go with it and enjoy the results from your personal challenge. I hope to see some new faces on the Am podium for sure.
Last year you threw in a best trick contest which went down really well, it seems like the best trick contests are pretty popular right now. Do you plan on holding one again this year Scott?
I would like to do the same thing. It was so laid back and fun. All of the riders enjoyed it and I told them it was about going for something big. One trick, not some huge combo with fillers. I also got a great response from people in the audience that are not riders, they really enjoyed best trick. Watching the riders try hard, struggle and have success. It’s presented right, about 15 minutes fast pace, action packed and electric.
I think there’s a lot of great things that happen when a rider can concentrate on that one trick. It’s a whole different aspect of competition.
Plans for a pre jam this year?
Working that out now. Checking out some cool locations and I hope to have a meeting soon on a few possibilities. My plan is to have the pre jam with a Veteran contest. Riders enjoy gathering before Voodoo Jam and there seems to be a huge Veteran class need so we just roll with it.
Who do you have judging this year and what criteria do you have set in place?
Claude Hickman, Chad Degroot, Travis Collier, and Terry Adams.
I have conversation with my judges and tell them what I like to see, but I am also confident in relying on their experience to make these judgement. I also communicate to riders and the judges what I like to see. Reward risk taking and riders that are pushing the limits. I also tell them to reward consistency, but to pay attention to repetitive tricks. If a riders is doing the same trick 5 times in his run then he keeps repeating, and in my opinion the reward for that should be minimal.
Bobby Carter kills it every year with the lifestream, are you setting up a lifestream once again this year?
We plan on doing the same thing we’ve done past two years except we may add a live mic and some interviews before the event. Might hook up two camera angles but that will come down to budget of course.
Is there still room to enter the contest Scott, how many spaces are left in each class?
Yes, there’s a little more room in Am and about 13 more spots in Pro class.
Throughout the course of running the Voodoo jam, I know you have witnessed so many crazy moments and shared them with the riders. What would you say have been the most pivotal moments for you running Voodoo jam?
We’ve had many amazing moments with Voodoo Jam. I think Ucchie’s win in 2008 was one of the most amazing moments. It was his new style of riding and he presented to the world at Voodoo Jam that year.
Matthias Dandois, Rapheal Chiquet, The Japan invasion, Terry Adams big moments for sure, Tsutomu 2013, Dom 2012, Matt Wilhelm has had some amazing runs at Voodoo Jam. Of course I can’t forget Justin Miller had some runs in 2004 & 2006 that would seriously win this year in 2015.
For myself honestly what I’ve enjoyed the most is riders making the finals for the first time at Voodoo. Seeing their faces and knowing that hard work they put in got them to that finals. Those riders are motivated for years to come because they made those finals. They go back to their hometowns and push other riders. This is how Voodoo Jam contributes in a real way. Through people and experience.
These riders know who they are and thanks to them Voodoo Jam is possible.
How do people contact you for Voodoo jam information?
What’s the deal with accommodation this year, I know you always get a special rate at the host hotel?
Yes, we have a host hotel and all information is on our website.
Let’s wrap this up Scott, thanks for taking the time to run through what’s going on at this years Voodoo Jam. Do you have any final words, thanks or anything like that?
Almost done our deal for the pre jam and after party so soon we will have that information up. Thanks to the sponsors and thanks to Terry Adams without them this is impossible to do. Most of all thanks to the riders that are dedicated and sacrifice so much to make it to Voodoo Jam.
It will be an amazing celebration of Flatland BMX and I can’t wait to see everyone.
Thanks Scott, that was great to catch up! Good luck with the event! Watch the amazing Voodoo jam 2014 highlights edit by Mickey Gaidos to get you hyped for this years showdown!
Visit the official Voodoo jam website: