The BMX factor
Clinic allows pro racer Daniels to connect with young riders
Dominique Daniels is an ESPN cover girl, an Olympic-caliber BMX racer and, ultimately, a top-notch teacher.
Less than one year removed from the London Olympics, Daniels — a professional BMX racer — hosted a clinic at the Grand Valley BMX track near the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University student estimated she has taught nearly 100 clinics this year. Giving back, one of the tenets GCU students are expected to follow, is her main reason for hosting clinics between races, classes and training for the 2016 Summer Olympics, she added.
“Because of my Olympic schedule last year, and my injuries, I had to postpone a number of clinics, and I felt bad because the kids look forward to these things, and really so do I,” Daniels said. “This year, we went ahead and decided that we were going to do a full-on summer clinic tour. Grand Junction is like stop 40 or 50. We still have a lot to go.
“It’s really great to get to interact with these kids. One of the great things about our sport is that the pros aren’t completely isolated or inaccessible to these kids. Teaching is really a passion of mine, so this combines all the things I love to do.”
Daniels found BMX racing by accident when she received a motocross dirt bike when she was 12 years old. After accidentally visiting a BMX track in Phoenix, she decided pedaling was the way to go.
In the subsequent eight years, she’s become a five-time women’s pro national champion and has been the No. 1 nationally ranked woman racer seven times. She appeared on the cover of ESPN’s RISE Magazine, a magazine distributed to middle school and high school kids across the country.
Kristi Adams, one of the track operators at Grand Valley BMX, said that although they’ve conducted pro clinics in Grand Junction before, no one has had the star-power of Daniels.
“We’ve hosted a lot of veteran pros,” Adams said. “Their professional days are a little farther removed. But by far, Dominique really is the biggest name we’ve had here. I think she’s a real down-to-earth person, and especially girls, I think, really look up to her. In my opinion she really has that Serena and Venus (Williams) factor where she has that tremendous power and likability where she can really be a face for the sport that really isn’t that mainstream.”
Pro clinics tend to draw a more expert crowd. Eight-year-old Reese Skinner has been to three pro clinics in two years, and he said he appreciates the learning opportunities professional racers provide.
“They always teach you something new,” Skinner said. “They teach you what to do on berms and really teach you a lot of everything.”
Although pro clinics only draw a few dozen riders, track operator Nick Adams said they’ve seen year-to-year growth among novice riders. Grand Valley BMX is the most ridden track in Colorado, Adams said, and it consistently is one of the top courses in the nation for number of riders.
Grand Valley BMX will host Jason Carnes of Redline Bicycles for another youth clinic June 12.