COCHRANE— Two of Canada's top BMX riders were in Cochrane this weekend sharing the tricks of the track with Cochrane area youth.
The Cochrane BMX Association held its annual summer camp on Saturday (Aug. 22) and Sunday (Aug. 23) at the Cochrane BMX track off of Highway 22.
Two-time Olympian and Canadian National BMX rider, Tory Nyhaug, was joined by the 2019 Canadian Elite Men’s National winner, James Palmer, to guide the kids in attendance through some skills training and exercises.
President of the Cochrane BMX Association, Adam Ross, said he was excited to host the pair of accomplished riders for the third time.
“What we really like about them is just the way they go about things and the way they coach, but also how relevant they are,” he said. “What works for them right now in BMX, they’re bringing that to the track.”
Ross said that the pair of riders are at the pinnacle of men’s racing in Canada, and have the most recent international experience at a high level of competition.
“When it comes to BMX techniques and coaching, sometimes you can end up with a provider that has been coaching and teaching for a long time, but maybe isn’t quite as up on things as a pair of more recent athletes might be,” Ross said.
Ross noted that the camp was especially timely, given that riders everywhere have not had much of an opportunity to compete this year, and the camp gives them a chance to shake things up a bit.
“They bring a lot of enthusiasm to riding, and they have a really good attitude towards it,” he said. “They like being out there with the kids. Their drills and activities, they’re not the same-old, same-old.”
Ross said that they wanted to keep the kids enrolled in the camp from the region, Cochrane, Airdrie and Calgary, to give local riders a chance to get the experience.
“I think what they’re going to like the most is a weekend of solid riding, being pushed by guys like Tory and James,” he said. “Almost everyone is going to gain something this weekend because most people haven’t been receiving any coaching, or training as they normally would.”
James Palmer, the 2019 national champion, was also very excited for the weekend.
“Myself and Tory, who I’m coaching with, are really excited,” Palmer said. “We were coaching there last year and we had an amazing time. Everyone from the track was super welcoming last year, and it really made us eager to come back and coach the kids again this year.
“We’re looking forward to teaching the kids some new skills,” he added.
Palmer said being able to give back to the BMX community and share their passion and what they’ve learned throughout the years with some very enthusiastic riders is what keeps them coming back to Cochrane to lead the camp.
“Our whole philosophy is that we want to teach these riders new skills and push their limits while we’re there, but also give them things that they can take away and work on when we’re gone,” he said. “We only get to spend three hours of the day with them to share our knowledge with them and teach them some new skills, and we want to give them some tools that they can take away and use when they’re on the track.”
Each group for the camp gets two sessions over the two days the camp was running.
Palmer said that he and Nyhaug like to try to touch on a bit everything, but that they would focus on basic skills and fundamentals on day one, and then work it into racing scenarios on day two.
Palmer said that his experience in previous camps and competing at a high level really informs the way he approaches coaching.
“Myself and Tory, we’ve both been put in so many different situations and learned so much about training. Doing these camps over the years, we’ve really learned what works best for the kids and what works best for them being able to get out there and learn a new skill,” he said. “Some of the things that we’ve taken away over the years we’ve compacted into what we think is the best advice we can give them over a three-hour session.”
Palmer added he was happy that the camp was going ahead, given the circumstances with COVID-19, but he was looking forward to coaching once again.
“I hope that every kid that comes to the camp will, one, have a good time, will take a piece of advice, a skill, a technique, or will learn something new that they can work on outside of the camp,” he said. “And I hope that they just enjoy getting to spend some time with us, because we’re both from B.C., so we don’t get to see these riders all the time. The opportunities that we can get to have a good time with the kids, ride the track, share a laugh, I think that’s just awesome.”