Today was a big day! Freestyle BMX had it's first hit out in the Olympics and the men and women did not disappoint.
Today was the seeding round - it ran like a normal competition qualification round, but no one was eliminated. The scores today were all about the position you would ride in the Medal Round tomorrow - top qualifier goes last. It's definitely an advantage to get to see everyone else ride first, and, to get the final say, so it was always going to be interesting to see how hard they fought for that spot - or would they just save it for the medals? The riders would also be watching to see what scores well with the judges to try and dial in their runs for tomorrow.
Let's have a look at how the competition started, and see if we need to revise some of our predictions from our Competition Preview yesterday...
Womens Freestyle BMX Seeding Round
Overall, the womens comp didn't offer many surprises - the top 5 are the ones we predicted, and it's hard to see that changing. But let's have a run through what happened:
Macarena Perez Grassett
Going first is always tough - but Macarena put together two clean runs to open the scoring with a solid 70 and back it up with a 65. She'll be happy with her scores, but like we said, we can't really see her challenging the top 5.
Despite not competing in a major event for over 18 months, Nat came up and did us all proud. She nailed her runs and left plenty in the tank for tomorrow - basically, she did exactly what she needed to and looked comfortable on the course. She brought out 360s, Flips & Whips - but we know she's got more variations to come. We're backing her to make a big run at the podium tomorrow. Let's go Nat! She finished in 5th with both scores in the high 70s.
Nailed a clean backie straight out of the gate to get the home fans cheering, and was smooth for most of her runs. But again, lacks the big tricks to really challenge the top of the field. Unless of course she comes out with something new in Finals... She qualifies in 8th spot.
Started off her runs with a big, clean truck driver over the box - which was awesome... but unfortunately the runs didn't offer much else. Plenty of transfers and stayed smooth over the course, but her scores of 51 & 50 really showed the lack of tricks. We aren't expecting much to change here tomorrow - she'll put in a solid performance, without challenging for a medal.
Lara Marie Lessmann
Was under an injury cloud coming in, but didn't show it during her runs. She qualified in 6th, just behind Nat, with a 66 & 73. Lara always brings some unique combos like the foot-plant to can can - and she does have the best can-can in womens BMX - but without the big tricks like flips and whips, she looks a bit off the pace here.
Backed up her World Championship podium with two runs in the 80s to show she is definitely a medal threat. But more than her runs... a video emerged from practice showing her landing a 360 Flip... which is a massive trick that could really shake things up in the final. Charlotte will be looking for another podium tomorrow, and looks like she has the ammo to go up a gear and challenge for it.
Perris rode fast, went high, and had plenty of style - exactly like we knew she would. Her scores were very good - both mid 80s - which was a bit of a surprise considering the lack of big tricks. But it does show that the judges are looking for use of course and amplitude just as much. It will be interesting to see if this is still enough tomorrow when the other girls start digging deeper into the trick bag. She goes through in 2nd spot.
Fresh off 2nd at the Worlds, Nikita was dialled for both runs - with clean 360 combos, smooth flips and plenty of style around the course. She's looking very good for a podium tomorrow - and we know she can bring out some bigger tricks too. We think she's the only one who can really challenge Hannah for the Gold.
Hannah did exactly what she needed to - and not a thing more. She qualified first with 2x runs that looked controlled and clean. She brought plenty of tricks all over the course, and hit almost every obstacle. We know she's got more left in the tank, and she'll get to go last tomorrow to see just how deep she needs to dig.
Seeding Round Results
1. Hannah Roberts - 87.7
2. Perris Benegas - 86.5
3. Nikita Ducarroz - 83.55
4. Charlotte Worthington - 81.5
5. Natalya Diehm - 78.2
6. Lara Lessman - 69.7
7. Macarena Perez Grasset - 67.9
8. Minato Oike - 61.45
9. Elizaveta Posadskikh - 51.3
We're pretty happy that we were spot on here - Hannah red hot favourite for the gold. Nikita, Perris, Charlote and Natalya all up there with medal chances.
If we had to bet, we'd say Nikita looks the best for a podium - and Natalya is going to be right up there. Like we said, we're biased and we're ok with that.
The mens seeding ran largely to script - with a couple of curveballs thrown in for good measure.
Riding first, Anthony had solid runs - definitely brought out some new big tricks and putting down a solid 2-run score in the 80s to qualify in 4th place - way above our initial prediction. We're sure he's hoping to hold onto that for the finals. If he can land a clean run tomorrow, he'll be a podium chance.
Kenneth had a busy first run, but unfortunately dragged a foot on a corked 720, which dropped his run score down. He hit back strong in the 2nd run though, cleaning up his whole run to end in 6th place with an overall 79.8. He'll need to find another gear to challenge the for the podium tomorrow though.
The Brit lived up to his reputation and rode the course totally differently - finding unique lines, but still putting in some big tricks with a cool front flips and a massive 360 flip. He held a lot back in this run though, and went through in 7th spot. But, look for him to have a big improvement tomorrow.
Doing it for the over-30s, Dhers way outperformed our expectations in seeding and put down some awesome runs. We knew he wouldn't choke under pressure, and he nailed his runs with corked 720s, big 360-triple whips, and a cash roll. He's through in 3rd spot. The big question here is does he have anything else to improve tomorrow...
The home town hero delivered for his did not let his fans today. Rimu put in 2x very solid runs in the high 80s - and debuted some new tricks for him, including the 720 double bar. We knew Rim would ride well and he's living up to expectations so far - he's through in 2nd place... and hopefully the home town pressure doesn't get to him in the final.
Irek was super consistent across his runs - earning two almost identical scores of 81.2 & 81.3. He rode really smooth, with lots of whip / spin combos across the course - and a few cool wall rides and transfers. He'll need to bring out some much bigger tricks tomorrow though if he wants to feature in the medals.
Nick basically just dropped in and waved off both runs to score almost zero... which was super strange at first. He posted online just after that he was carrying an injury since a crash in practice and hasn't been able to ride since... he said he wasn't going to risk it today and will lay it on the line tomorrow... very risky strategy.
Justin had two consistent runs, but really didn't score that well. Qualifying in 8th spot, only ahead of Nick Bruce who didn't do anything. Justin was visibly annoyed when his scores came up, obviously thinking he'd done better than that... but we think that the judges are just looking for more height and speed. Like we predicted, he had lots of tricks, but lacked amplitude - and that seems to be effecting his score harshly. He might have to seriously re-think his strategy for the finals if he wants to medal.
Well.... Logan did exactly what we expected - put down two amazing runs and didn't look like he was breaking a sweat. Both runs in the 90s - well clear of Rimu Nakamura in 2nd. Logan did 720 combos, transfers, opposite whips, opposite flairs and rode the course like he owns it. He's earned the last run tomorrow, so will get to see everyone else again and know exactly what is needed - he's certainly in the box seat for Olympic Gold.
Seeding Round Results:
1. Logan Martin - 90.97
2. Rimu Nakamura - 87.67
3. Daniel Dhers - 85.10
4. Anthony Jeanjean - 84.65
5. Irek Rizaev - 81.25
6. Kenneth Tennico - 79.80
7. Declan Brooks - 76.75
8. Justin Dowell - 75.20
9. Nick Bruce - 3.80
Revised Mens Verdict
Well, yesterday we said Logan was a big favourite... and if today's results are a guide, his odds are shortening even more. It was a dominant performance in seeding from Logan to score an average above 90. But more than the score, it was how EASY he seemed to be riding - he looked relaxed, and he didn't dig that deep into his bag of tricks. Anyone wanting to take that Gold medal off him will need something very very special... and we just don't think anyone in the field has the tricks.
We thought Nick Bruce would be right up there, but it looks like he's carrying an injury... so we're going to drop him out of our podium prediction.
Rimu Nakamura rode awesome - debuting some new tricks and riding with plenty of style - we're keeping him in our podium prediction.
And based off his awesome performance today, we're going to add Daniel Dhers in as an podium chance, along with Declan Brooks - who we always thought was a smoky.