BMX Legend at Risk If He Falters in Finale

By Katie Carrera
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ryan Nyquist wishes he had made winning his first Dew Cup easy on himself. But after an uncharacteristically low 11th-place performance at the Dew Tour's stop last month in Salt Lake City, Nyquist's position on top of the BMX dirt standings is vulnerable as a handful of riders are ready to take advantage should he falter again at this week's final tour stop in Orlando.

Among the Dew Tour's six competitions, three riders will win championships regardless of how they finish this weekend. Shaun White (skateboard vert), Ryan Sheckler (skateboard park) and Nate Adams (freestyle motocross) each won three of the first four tour stops, but parity reigns in BMX, especially on the dirt course.

"It goes to show that our level of competition is higher than some of the others," Nyquist said. "As nice as it would have been have won already, it's cool to have a battle and not a total blowout. It's more fun for everyone involved."

One of the more recognizable names in action sports, the 28-year-old Nyquist is among the community's elder statesmen. The younger athletes he rides alongside are as much awestruck by being able to compete against him as they are determined to win.

"It's Ryan Nyquist," said Cameron White, a 23-year-old Australian who is second in the standings. "I grew up idolizing the guy. I'm stoked to be sitting up there at the drop-in with him as a leader again."

Nyquist has won nearly every BMX street park and dirt competition the past three years, except for a Dew Cup. And a Dew Cup would mean something different, Nyquist said, because he likes the sport's venture into series competition rather than one-shot stardom like at the annual X Games.

Nyquist claimed victories at the first two stops on this year's tour but failed to reach the podium in the next two.

In Portland, Ore., he fell to fifth as 16-year-old phenom Dennis Enarson, whom many riders -- including Nyquist -- consider the future of BMX, won his first major competition. Nyquist can't explain what happened in Salt Lake City, where he rode poorly. James Foster, 21, who has reached the finals in every tour stop this season, took the title there.

"It seems like a lot of the names you see are the next generation," Nyquist said. "The sport is thriving if there are that many young guys coming up. It's good for me to see a whole different group of names in the finals then when I first started competing. It makes guys like me go out and learn new tricks."

The Dew Tour's ranking system awards points based on a competitor's final placement at each of the five events and has a maximum of 500 points in any competition. There are three riders who have a shot of toppling Nyquist for the Dew Cup.

Foster is in third place and trails Nyquist by 60 points, while Enarson is in fourth and is behind by 82 points. Just 50 points away in second place is Cameron White, whom many describe as one of the more precise and calculating riders on tour.

"I'm glad we don't have a winner yet. I think it's better when there's more pressure on us," White said. "Everyone's going to come out swinging and throwing down whatever they can, because it's the last competition of the season, so if you get a little banged up you have time to heal."

What White, along with the rest of the BMX dirt riders, is most anxious to see, though, is how his idol and stiffest competition decides to attack the finals.

"Everyone knows Nyquist has a lot on the line with this one," White said. "It'll be interesting to see if he takes a lot of risks or tries to play it safe."

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