Whilst I was riding at the Phil Dolan jam, my phone, and email messages were going wild like never before with messages asking all the same thing, who won the masters?
This got me thinking….. of all the events on the flatland calendar, which event matters the most, what carries the most weight of credibility…..
The answer is simple, if you win the BMX Masters you follow in the footsteps of this years winner Matthias Dandois, and past champions, Adam Kun, Raphael Chiquet, Sam Foakes, Three times champion Justin Miller, and before that world champions such as Akira Okamura, Martti Kuoppa, Phil Dolan (who won the worlds twice in Koln, once in Madrid), and yours truly in Koln 1994, the contest has a lot of history, beginning as the German championships, with flatland running underneath the bridge, that many camp and park cars under these days. Moving one year away from Jugendpark to the North brigade, which ironically the year I was crowned World Champion.
Why is winning the Masters such a big deal?…
I think it’s partly the tradition, the history the contest has, the fact the format has never changed in all those years, this helps build rider respect, future winners will have grown up watching riders such as Adam Kun, Matthias Dandois, Rapahel Chiquet, Sam Foakes, Justin Miller, and try to emulate their heroes, I always remember that riders from overseas would go to the Masters, because they knew what to expect.
It could be, that this is one of the only long term running contests where flatland is involved with the rest of bmx, so the media interest is a lot greater, flatland is always right there in the thick of it! The crowds are always big in Jugendpark, the rider attendance numbers are always good, I remember judging in 2008, and there were 59 riders in pro qualifying, every year I went there were always 30+ riders in the pro contest.
Between 2005-2009, Flatland was at its peak at the Masters, so much so that the organisers were able to afford to pay for a tent to cover the flatland area as always as bleachers either side (check the videos from 2005 as example), this added to the atmosphere, that undercover area has made for some of the best contests ever to go down in the history of flatland. Unforgettable memories!
Because of the media attention, it carries a huge weight with sponsors, what is ironic the last two years, but for DeepBMX, the flatland contest would not have happened at all.
So the flatland world has a lot to thank the DeepBMX crew for, they kept the tradition alive.
Winning the Masters last year helped Adam Kun raise his profile within the sport, not just flatland, but in the sport of BMX. It seemed that right after last years win, he was on the Nike team, and it must have helped his Monster contract.
People outside of the close knit flatland scene whether riders or media take notice as to who wins the masters.
I also believe that the Masters is a huge test of the mental as well as the physical, that many riders have struggled with. Matthias Dandois is currently the most consistent contest rider on the flatland scene over the past 5 years, and up until this year he had never won the BMX masters! I am sure he will tell you the same thing, this is the biggest contest of the year, you have one shot at it, the hardest one to win. Justin Miller’s 3peat may well never be achieved again.
Another perhaps deciding factor is, the Masters is still classed as the World Championships, same venue, same organisers (aside from DeepBMX organising), so if you win the masters, you are effectively the world champion. It is an unwritten rule.
I’d like to take this chance to pay respect to all the Champions, past and present!
Winning the Masters does matter!
Long may it continue!