Tokyo 2020 Alise Quarters

Four U.S. Riders Advance to BMX Racing Olympic Semifinals

By: Angelina Palermo  July 28, 2021

The BMX Olympic Champions will be crowned tomorrow at the Ariake Urban Sports Park

Corben Sharrah (Tucson, Ariz.; Daylight Cycle Co.), Connor Fields (Henderson, Nev.; Chase Bicycles/ Monster Energy), Alise Willoughby (Saint Cloud, Minn.; Team Toyota/ GW Bicycles), and Felicia Stancil (Lake Villa, Ill.; Factory Answer SSquared) have all advanced to the BMX Racing semifinals.

The quarterfinals started on Thursday with four heats each for the men and women, with three runs per heat. The four riders with the lowest points at the end of the three rounds moved on to the semifinals.

In the first heat for the men, two-time Olympian Sharrah placed fourth, fifth, and second totaling 11-points squeezing him into the semifinals.

Connor Fields coming down the start hill during his run in quarterfinals. Photo: Casey Gibson.
Connor Fields coming down the start hill during his run in the quarterfinals. Photo: Casey Gibson.

Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Fields raced in the last heat for the men winning his heat with the lowest points.

Fields said, “It felt great. With the way the Olympics are formatted, it’s all about advancing into the next round and getting to the finals and then making it happen there. Winning a quarterfinal is great and I feel awesome. Now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow and to repeat the same process in the semis to get myself into the final and I should have a good chance there.”

Fields also gave more details on the track layout, explaining “The track is awesome. It’s a different builder than the previous three, so it has definitely got a little bit of a different flavor to it. It’s longer, but as shown today, it’s going to make for some good racing.”

For the women, this is the first year the Olympic format has been expanded to mirror the Men’s format, with 2 days of racing. Willoughby was one of the riders to beat today winning all three rounds of her heat. Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Mariana Pajon (COL) also won all of her rounds.

Willoughby said, “It was good to let everyone get their feet wet, well at least for me, after a year and a half off from international racing, it was good. We got a little bit of everything out there, and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

When asked her strategy on the track today, Willoughby said, “You do what you got to do. I’m just trying to run clean laps, figure out my lines, and obviously, you got to get to the front and control your race as best as you can, but there’s strategy involved with it. There’s weather conditions, the heat, the physicality of the track, and all these other things that can play a factor. I’m just trying to be as prepared as I can be for tomorrow.”

“I feel like I’m in a great headspace. I’ve had a lot of success over the last several years, and I’ve been finding my groove. I think that helps. Having Sam [Willoughby] at my side, with someone who is as prepared as he is really, caters to me. I think that I feel as prepared as I’ve ever been. So I’m fine with whatever comes my way,” said Willoughby about her mental space and preparation moving into these Games.

Felicia Stancil, Laura Smulders, and Axelle Etienne battle it out for front position. Photo: Casey Gibson
Felicia Stancil, Laura Smulders, and Axelle Etienne battle it out for the front position. Photo: Casey Gibson

In heat two, Stancil and Laura Smulders (NED) went head-to-head each round. Stancil placed second to Smulders in her heat, one point separating them. They will both advance to the next round.

“Today’s going great. Today was the first round of motos, and I went first, second, second. It was really good to be thrown in with some really fast girls to begin with, so tomorrow’s not that much of a surprise. It was fun battling with [Smulders] around the track,” said Stancil. “I know some points I need to improve on and where I need to carry more speed around. It was really really fun to be thrown right into it with some fast girls.”

At 19-years-old and competing in her first Olympic Games, Ridenour had a great ride but came up just shy on her last round. She needed to beat Dutch rider Elke Vanhoof, but Vanoof crossed the line 0.203 ahead.

Up Next

Sharrah, Fields, Willoughby, and Stancil will take the gate tomorrow at the Ariake Urban Sports Park and start with the semi-finals then on to the main events! In Rio 2016, Team USA walked away with two medals from the event with Fields and Willoughby, who are looking to double down again this year.

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