US BMX training facility opening Jan. 21

Preparations gaining speed for Beijing Olympics

USA Cycling is set to open its new BMX training facility at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, with an athlete exhibition and ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, January 21.

Seven of the United States' top BMX athletes and 2008 Olympic hopefuls are scheduled to attend, including three-time world champion and top-ranked American Kyle Bennett, Donny Robinson, Mike Day, Steven Cisar, Jill Kintner, Arielle Martin and Amanda Geving.

"The opening of the USA Cycling BMX training facility in Chula Vista highlights the importance of the close partnership between the USOC and USA Cycling in the continued development of the sport of BMX," said Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling. "This facility not only represents the current state-of-the-art in BMX training centers, but will continue to evolve over time to keep pace with the rapid evolution of international BMX racing."

Monday's event is open to the public and will begin at noon, with a ribbon cutting ceremony to follow at 1 p.m. with athletes, USA Cycling and U.S. Olympic Committee officials. The event will then conclude with a demonstration of the newest Olympic sport by those expected to contend for medals in Beijing.

"The grand opening represents an exciting opportunity for our BMX athletes," added Mike King, USA Cycling's Director of BMX Programs and former world champion.  "This venue was designed specifically for our elite athletes and is expected to set the standard for other countries to follow.  

"The ultimate goal when contributing to the design, construction and financing of the facility was to accurately replicate the Beijing track and hopefully bring home some medals from the Games," he added.

Kintner, a BMX and three-time 4-cross mountain bike world champion, has been at the Olympic Training Center since early December as a member of USA Cycling's resident athlete program. As an experienced rider, she's seen and rode on several of the world's best courses including the one in Beijing.

"It's going to be such an advantage having this replica track in our backyard," she said. "The Olympic Training Center has opened my eyes to what the possibilities could be towards an Olympic dream, and they have provided an incredible resource. In my normal life, meeting all these different athletes and learning from those who have been to the Olympics before just wouldn't have been available. This environment has plenty of positive motivation to train hard."

The course in Chula Vista was built by Tom Ritzenthaler, who also built the BMX track that will be used for the sport's Olympic debut in Beijing this August. Ritzenthaler, a 33-year-old veteran BMX competitor, has built dozens of BMX tracks around the world, but USA Cycling's training facility in Chula Vista is the only course that currently replicates the UCI Supercross style that Olympic athletes will see in Beijing.

The course is also the only permanent Supercross structure in the nation. Completed in January, the track will offer training and competition grounds for some of the top American BMX athletes as they prepare to qualify for this summer's Olympic Games.

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