It was on the brand new track in Jössefors, Arvika, that the Swedish round of the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championship Qualifier race was decided last Sunday the 19th of September. 25 excited and eager racers battled it out for the prestigious win and the opportunity to go to the big final in Lisbon in October. It was a heater of a race with plenty of fast racers from an astonishing five different countries, pushing the level of riding through the roof - the final rounds of the competition so tight and intense it kept both racers and the crowd on their toes.
In the end, it was Swedish BMX racer Oskar Kindblom and Latvian BMX racer Vineta Pētersone who kept it consistently pinned and grabbed the top step of the podium.
WATCH THE VIDEO HIGHLIGHT HERE
Jössefors Red Bull Pump Track Qualifer 2021
WHAT WENT DOWN IN JÖSSEFORS?
An autumnal Jössefors welcomed the racers with dry weather and a newly built Velosolutions pump track on Sunday morning. With 20 riders in the men’s category and 5 in the women’s, coming from a bunch of different backgrounds, from BMX to Slopestyle and Enduro, the scene was set for an exciting day. While the bigger chunk of riders were from Sweden, a select few had come from abroad specifically for the race, resulting in an astonishing five different nationalities present: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Latvia and even Colombia.
In the men’s race, BMXers Oskar Kindblom, Filip Svanberg and Tim Slettenmark-Gille set the pace from the get-go, by clocking sub-16 second times in the qualifying timed runs. But with a bunch of riders just a mere second behind, things were looking exciting ahead of the first round of head-to-heads - where the 16 fastest riders from timed runs raced two and two against each other in the pump track. Putting down the second-fastest time of this round, Columbian Miguel Calixto showed that he too was a contender for the win. Unfortunately one of the fastest riders on the day, Slettenmark-Gille, was knocked out as he thought he'd finished his full lap when he still had some to go.
Quarterfinals rolled around and with most riders only separated by hundredths of a second, there was some tight and exciting racing going down. In the end, Columbian Calixto and Sebastian Morales battled it out in the small final for third and fourth place, whilst Kindblom and Svanberg put down a heater of a race in the big final, with only 0.4 of a second separating the two.
As for the women’s race, although just five riders, they still put down one heck of a show. After timed runs, the top three women were only separated by a second with Vineta Pētersone clocking the only sub-17 time of the race. Both BMX racers Helena Sund and Annika Pettersen showed good pace with 17-second runs and were well within reach of the win. With Sund and Pētersone fastest in the semi-finals they went head to head in the big final, where the Latvian racer won by 0.5 of a second. In the small final, it was Norwegian racer Pettersen who grabbed the win over Åre local Josefine Ahlström. This was Pētersone’s second win in the series this season, thus leaving the World Final ticket for an excited Sund to take home.
The racers, crowd, and crisp but dry autumn weather made for a really good day full of two wheels and bike stoke. Thanks Jössefors for some very exciting racing and general good times. Find full results below and keep reading for an interview with the two winners.
RESULTS: Men & Women
- Oskar Kindblom
- Filip Svanberg
- Miguel Calixto
- Sebastian Morales
- Vineta Pētersone
- Helena Sund
- Annika Pettersen
- Josefine Ahlström
WINNER INTERVIEW: Oskar Kindblom
Congrats on the win! How does it feel?
It feels amazing. I’ve been pretty nervous ahead of the race and now that it’s done and I’ve raced my laps, it feels fantastic. It’s been especially exciting to race a new type of event and race format.
What made you take the win here today?
I’ve done a lot of BMX racing and it’s a very similar form of racing. It’s tighter here though. I’m used to having more space on track and also other riders around me. I’ve actually had a three-year break from competitions as I had a few too many concussions in a row so this is kind of my comeback. I’ve ridden loads in the last six months and it feels good to comeback racing this kind of format - it feels more chill and relaxed than heading straight back into BMX racing. It's really good to be back and find the fun in biking again.
How was your day?
Well, ehm, I fell asleep a little later than what I wanted as I was thinking about the fast Columbian that was racing here today, amongst other things. But I’ve had a good day nonetheless. I’ve kept my calm and tried not to stress too much. Stressing is the last thing you want to do in a pump track race as you’ve got to keep it smooth and in a rhythm. I just had a really nice and fun day.
Is it physical to race so many laps?
It’s actually really hard work. I thought it would be worse though as during practice yesterday I was done after half a lap, haha. But thanks to a bit of adrenaline and race nerves I managed to shut it out. There’s also a lot of breaks which makes it alright.
How’s it been racing against some fast riders and different bike disciplines?
It’s been really good fun. There have been some fast racers here today, like the guy from Columbia. He has been on the national team and stuff, and that’s been in the back of my mind all day. I did my best just to focus on my own racing, but it’s a bit nerve-racking when you know you’re up for some fast competition and big names. But racing against different nationalities also makes my win all the sweeter.
And meeting riders from different bike disciplines has been awesome. It was one of the things I looked forward to the most ahead of this race. I think the BMXers had a bit of an advantage on the track today, as it’s pretty similar to what we normally ride, but having people from MTB here makes it so much more relaxed and fun. It gives it a freestyle vibe. Really cool!
How’s the track here in Jössefors?
Firstly, it’s such a sick build - it’s mad how good it is. I straight away felt at home in it. With that said, it’s not that easy and there are some tricky parts to conquer. I felt more dialled in towards the end of the race, when I’d done it so many times, but the tight corners are really hard. You really need to keep your gaze forward, on the exit. Kind of scary actually, but a really good course.
Have you raced pump track before?
I have tried a pump track before, but this is the first time I’m racing it. I normally race BMX and ride a bit of park too. I tend to spend most of my time on Kungsbacka BMX track as I live close by.
I really like how relaxed this race format is. I’ve race for the Swedish national BMX team in the past and struggled with some bad race nerves. I do very easily get nervous but today just felt fun, playful. I will definitely race pump track again!
WINNER INTERVIEW: Vineta Pētersone
Congrats on the win. How does it feel?
It feels amazing. I’m so happy to be in Sweden, the pump track is nice and I’m really excited about all the racing. I’ve had a really good day putting down some fast laps. I think I had the fastest lap of the day amongst the women, a time that compared to the guys was very respectable too. I just tried to keep my rhythm all day. I had a small crash but it was more awkward than painful. Scratched myself a little but I’m all good.
What made you take the win today?
I have some good skills that I could put to use on the track. There is a crucial technical section with five turns in a row on the track that I really focused on keeping my speed through. It was vital to stay smooth and find the rhythm through that section.
Is it physical so ride so many laps?
This one wasn’t that bad actually. The track was only 17 seconds so that’s fine with me, but I’ve been in pump tracks that are almost 30-seconds long and then you can really feel the burn. So, I was in a pretty good shape to do many laps here, but can definitely still feel the burn.
How’s the track here in Jössefors?
It’s technical but doesn’t require so much endurance as it’s a pretty short lap. It does however require some good skill sets in order to keep the rhythm throughout the track. As I mentioned earlier it’s the turns, not the jumps, that are the trickiest part.
How is it to race against riders from different disciplines?
Haha, well I am always rooting for the BMXers. Normally the small BMX bikes are really fast in pump tracks but, as we’ve seen in the past, mountain bikers can also be a strong contender for the gold medal. It really is something different when people from all kinds of bike disciplines come together - it make for a really nice atmosphere.
How many pump track competitions have you raced before?
This was my 5th qualifier I think, and my 5th win. I’ve also raced both World Championships - in my first final I came 12th and during the last one I placed 7th.
What do you think of the pump track race format?
We haven’t had head-to-head format for a while and I really like it. I think it’s better for the crowds and it’s really nice when you put two riders in the track at the same time. It makes for some exciting racing. Pump track racing is very accurate and all about who’s time is fastest. I like that - clean and simple. It’s just a really nice format.