Throwback Thursdays – Editorial: The Worlds

Editorial: Effraim

It’s that time of year again, the 2013 BMX World Championships is upon us. As I prepare to fly out later today for the Worlds, I thought I would do something a lil’ different for Throwback Thursdays.

The Worlds is an event is deep in the history books of BMX, in the early 90’s the event swapped around locations every year. Different countries wanting to have the chance of holding the event! Budapest 92, Limoges 93 where Albert Retey threw down one of the best runs of all time, 1994 in Koln where I surprised everyone including myself by taking the title, then there was a break for year. In 1996, Phil Dolan came out swinging on his orange Morales, followed by Andrew Faris taking the title the next two years in Eindhoven and Portimao. Phil Dolan came back for more in 99/2000 taking the title twice and ultimately for a third time. Then the Worlds was cancelled in 2001 in Toulouse France. The event returned to Koln in 2002, where Martti Kuoppa widely tipped to win in 2000, came back with an unbeatable run.

Pre internet, the Worlds was the event everyone showed up to and by and large you hadn’t seen anyone’s new tricks. The jam circles were always legendary. Especially around 2000 onwards with the inclusion of the flatland tent in Koln. The atmosphere, the bmx family feel, great times!
The Worlds of course is a lot for any organiser to take on. And nowadays the legendary Jugendpark in Cologne, Germany has become the host venue. The contest went under the name “BMX Masters” in 2005. Because of the venue, format, and whole set up being identical,many still regarded the contest as the Worlds. The downside for those that have won if you won the BMX Masters was you couldn’t take the “World Champion” title, if the names not there.

The first Worlds I can recall was in Vancouver, Canada 1986. With the event moving over to Europe in the late 80’s with the World Championshps even being held in England for a few years. The list of World Champions is something that adds to the history and tradition of the event. In 2003, the Portuguese held the Worlds for the second time, Nathan Penonzek was on another level that year! A year later we were back in Koln, with Akira Okamura taking the title. Then in 05, the Worlds took on a new venue, Prague! Michael Sommer took the title that year and it turned out to be the last one for a few years, with the BMX Masters running from 2005-2008. And that was dominated by two names, Justin Miller and Sam Foakes! The worlds returned in 2009, Raphael Chiquet stomped to a famous win. Then we had to wait until 2012 for the next Worlds, this time Matthias Dandois put the World title to his long list of titles. It’s not clear why the name changed from BMX masters to the Worlds, but it seems a shame not to carry the consistency each year.

This brings me onto a rather obvious point, but nevertheless one I am seeing more and more of. And something I would like to discuss.
There is only one World Champion! Some may think “yeah no shit Effraim”, but I see a lot of riders trying to ride the glory of being “World Champion” when it’s not there title to take. To me, thats disrespectful to the rider that is the World Champion, and takes something away from our sport.
Let’s take 2012 for example, Matthias Dandois is the current “World Champion”, and the “World Circuit” of course is a different event, Yohei Uchino is the 2012 “World Circuit Champion”, the Worlds is a one shot event, the World Circuit is as the name suggest, a series. We should distinguish the two.

For me, the World Championships is the event that really counts on contest calendar, theres a certain romance to the fact you get one crack at the title. I’ve seen many a dialled rider crumble under the pressure. You could say that for contest riding in general, but it seems much more enhanced at the Worlds. With the title at stake, whether it matters a lot with sponsors I don’t know. I do know that it has huge credibility with the riders due to its history and tradition, and ultimately thats what matters.

I can remember back in 2002, Martti Kuoppa was winning all the contests at that time, but the one that eluded him was the World title. If you were there in Koln 2000, you may recall Martti owning the qualifying, practise but buckling at the final hurdle. Then going onto win the X Games three times, in 2002 he returned to Koln and threw down trick for trick what I think is possibly in terms of originality and difficulty the best run I have ever seen. And what’s interesting watching it back, is there is no showmanship and yet the crowd is still so loud.
You can say to Joe public that you won an event, and yeah sure thats impressive. But to say you are the “World Champion”, that’s another level.

This year once again thanks to the hard work of the Autum/Deep BMX crew, the infamous flatland tent is back, which was last at the BMX Masters in 2008! If you are lucky enough to have felt the atmosphere inside the tent, you know what to expect!
Can Matthias defend his 2012 title? Who can step up and take the pressure, it’s something that intrigues me and I am sure others. Who are the contenders? Will any new guns step up to the plate, and make a name for themselves?
In this generation, where there are new edits daily. It’s easy to always talk about progression, but I rarely talk contest riding which is the hardest form of flatland. Maintaining a high level of discipline training for an event, being consistent, always progressing, being consistent at old tricks, and new tricks, changing combos, adapting to floors, different climates, dealing with jetlag, not to mention the pressure you personally put on yourself amongst other things.

Big up to everyone involved keeping this important event alive for the BMX community.

So with that said. All eyes on the Jugendpark in Koln this weekend.
Will we have a new World Champion for 2013?

See you there!

Previous winners from 92:
1992- Budapest: Chase Gouin
1993: Limoges: Albert Retey
1994: Effraim Catlow
1995: No worlds that year.
1996: Koln: Phil Dolan
1997: Eindhoven:Andrew Faris
1998: Portimao: Andrew Faris
1999: Madrid: Phil Dolan
2000: Koln: Phil Dolan
2001: Toulouse: Cancelled.
2002: Koln: Martti Kuoppa
2003: Beja: Nathan Penonzek
2004: Koln: Akira Okamura
2005: Prague: Michael Sommer
2006 onwards – BMX Masters instead of Worlds.
2009: Koln: Raphael Chiquet
2012: Köln: Matthias Dandois

15 thoughts on “Throwback Thursdays – Editorial: The Worlds

  1. I’m obviously super excited to see that Terry is heading back there after a few years away, but my money would be on Dom or Uuchie this weekend (is Uuchie even going? Is there a registration list available?)

    • Thanks for the comments! Haven’t seen a “rider list” you can look at the worlds site and see whos registered. I believe there is a G shock event so no japanese, which is a real shame, it is the World Championships!
      @mark – maybe an old school sunday?

  2. So Justin Miller and Adam Kun aren’t considered to be world champions? Weird. I guess I never thought about the name change…

    • @ Burd – And of course Justin dominated the BMX Masters for many years, as I was saying in the editorial. I don’t know why the name change, but you can’t take a title when the name isn’t there. Justin was three times BMX Masters Champion.

  3. That’s interesting read with good points but I am surprised to find missing points (as I think about you as a journalist when it comes to these kind of articles about freestyle history) =
    – is it not the IFN (International Freestyle Network) and after the IBMXFF (presided by Mat Hoffman along with a big list of legitimate big names on the BMX Freestyle Scene) the autority who gives the organisation of the Worlds to the ones who want/can organise it?
    In that case, the fact there was no Worlds organised sometimes is due to this authority, with not finding or wanting to find organisers doing it. See here the news of the 6th of january 2011 to get that point:
    – There are freestyle bmx contests organised in the Jugenpark in Köln for more than 25 years, by a german team including misters Robert Möller and Thomas Göring. During years, these annual freestyle contests used to be named “Jugendpark Contest” and the name evolved to “BMX Masters”
    – some years, there is no Worlds organised. Some years there is no BMX Masters organised (in Cologne), it appears to me that’s because the Worlds are these years organised in the Jugendpark too.
    There are 2 different things on my mind, even if it’s clearly right that the BMX Masters is THE contest that is the major meeting that gathers everyone and that’s really awesome!!!

    As you said, I hope the Worlds will find new host cities in the future. Spielbetrieb agency, the agency running by the germans mentionned above (and that agency name changed but I don’t know the new name), is very good with all that experience they get but it would be cool to get new location for the Worlds. (maybe there will be evolutions from a motivated french team about this in few years, we’ll see 😉 )

    That’s good you talk about the difference between the World BMX Flatland Champion and the Winner of the BFWC (BMX Flatland World Circuit) because a majority of people seems to be confused with these two things. But that’s not a big deal, specially when the Pro riders use that “world champion” title (when there are not World champion) when they talk with their sponsors, I guess

    IBMXFF website:
    Here are informations about the Worlds that happened over the years:
    Here are informations about the BMX Masters contests:

    • @ R – Good points, this editorial was meant from rider perspective. I didn’t really want to get into association type stuff. But more about the riding, and why the Worlds is so important, thats kind of my take with Flatmatters. I will take a look at your links when I get a few moments. I see that Mat Hoffman is there already in Koln, in reference to the IBMXFF. For many years, it has stayed in Koln, because no-one has stepped up to do it…

      @Mark – Good observation.

  4. Great comments Big E. I was actually recently wondering what the deal was with two people saying that they were the world champion.

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