The BMX Worlds: Steeped in History - Part 2 | Ride UK BMX

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The BMX Worlds: Steeped in History – Part 2

Where European freestyle competitions began...

Words by Seb Hejna
Photos by Kay Clauberg

There is so much to say about the BMX Worlds, it’s impossible to pull any one significant moment out, simply because there has been so many – so many parties, so many NBDs, so many riders and over the years, so many changes. Hopefully from the first two edits of Ritual you get a good flavour of where it all began. It really had humble beginnings but it was this that helped shape it into being so successful, as it had BMX at its core and made sure it never lost sight of this.

Joe Rich. Nuff said.


Part 3 of Ritual shows the very first ‘organised’ contest, where they had to beg, (literally) steal and borrow to make the contest happen. Building a huge midi ramp from scratch, with no money or materials, but a hell of a lot of good will. The sheer amount of people wanting to see a contest like this actually happen basically meant it was always going to be a success.

Those early days were full of full face helmets, body armour, pads that couldn’t be worn under clothes, breakdancing, bad 90s fashion and their accompanying haircuts. It was the ‘anything goes’ mentality. It was fun.


“It was just a bunch of BMX misfits coming together and rocking out and producing one of the most awesome events…”  Mat Hoffman


Back in the early days, vert was still very much king of freestyle. Vert and flatland are two of the oldest forms of BMX freestyle, but as BMX progressed, so did the contest and so to complete the package, in 1996, The Worlds hosted their first dirt competition, following the dirt riding trend erupting across the globe thanks to the success of cult films such as S&M‘s BMX Inferno. From this point, they had all aspects of BMX freestyle covered and they have remained a staple part of The Worlds contest throughout its history. This preserving and protecting BMX history is very much something that The Worlds prides itself on – it understands and respects everything that BMX brings to the table and always does its best to champion them all.




As the contest progressed, it was clear that it was reaching a far wider audience than simply BMXers. It was becoming a commercially viable venture, where sponsors such as Playstation were eager to get involved, sponsoring riders and the contest itself. This was a merging of two very different worlds, and the Jugendpark had to change its approach, which it managed pretty well, and over the years the sponsors kept on coming, helping facilitate the event whilst the organisers assured it never lost any of its original homegrown spirit.



However, for a BMX contest of its kind, there is only so much room to grow before it almost outgrows itself. The Worlds knows how to put on a contest, it’s the longest standing series of its kind, but it needed a change, it needed to reach more people again, and it needed a refresh. This is why I think the move to NASS is the right one, both for NASS and The Worlds.  The meeting of these contest giants is going to be a mutually beneficial relationship for sure.



Last year, NASS made the bold decision to bring vert back to its roster, hosting the BMX Vert Series for both pro and amateur contests and even holding a skate demo from the household name Tony Hawk. It was pretty successful, the riding was really good and the crowds were stoked off it. So I guess it’s already well prepared, knowing the success of last year, and last week they confirmed that flatland is also going to be happening too, completing The Worlds package. There’s no way it would’ve been the same without them so I’m glad they made the decision to keep it in.



But why do I think it’s mutually beneficial? Well, this is only my opinion, but The Worlds was ready for a change. It needed to take another leap into the unknown, the next progression step for it to develop, but I don’t think it could’ve managed this on its own. Although one of the oldest and most respected contests in BMX, it also has a lot more competition these days, needing to keep up with the footfall of Simple Session, FISE and of course NASS. All of these have a lot more appeal to the wider audience as they feature skateboarding, take over entire cities, and NASS includes a whole music festival. I think The Worlds will benefit from this. I’m not taking anything away from previous Worlds, they have been huge, but it needed a step up, and NASS could be the answer. NASS can deal with the corporate sponsorship deals, the entertainment, and the hospitality of raucous BMXers, whilst The Worlds concentrate on the BMX comp, working with the course builders and judges making sure this is slicker than ever. And this is why NASS will also gain from this relationship, it too needed to find the next gear to compete with the other festivals and competitions. I have a lot of love for NASS, I’ve been the BMX MC for them almost a decade now, and I feel quite protective over it when it sometimes comes under fire. It has a hell of a job on its hands, combining huge music acts such as Nas and Jurassic 5, with the UK’s largest skate and BMX comp, and it has to do both legitimately, appealing to core BMXers / skaters and music fans alike, and I think it does a good job of it. To some, they may have missed the mark sometimes, but I challenge anyone to come up with someone else that’s put as much into these sports for the UK comp scene over the past 10 years. Yes, they are a music festival. Yes, they have to invest a lot into this to make it work.  And yes, they have had corporate sponsors. But, last year they had BMX dirt, vert, park and a decent amount of street, plus a consistently good prize purse year on year, so I can’t fault it. However, BMXers love to moan, and if there’s a fault to be found, they’ll find it. This is where the Worlds is a great transition for it, it brings even more heritage, even more legitimacy, and even more experience to an already strong foundation – it’s going to be the best of both worlds. They’re even introducing the amateur comp this year, appealing to not just an elite bunch of ‘invited’ athletes. If the relationship works as it should, it could be the start of something really good for BMX. It’s an exciting new step for both, and I’m stoked it’s happening, I’m going to be MC’ing the BMX Worlds at NASS and that gets my vote every time.


Classic Hucker



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