On Saturday, April 4, Twenty five Junior Track racers (and their parents) braved Los Angeles’ notorious traffic to learn track racing from Missy Erickson and Nate Koch, two of America’s best sprinters. Juniors came from all three regional tracks: Stubhub Center, San Diego Velodrome, and the Encino Velodrome, the event host. While Nate and Missy are targeting the 2016 Olympics, their students’ Olympic dreams won’t start coming to fruition until sometime between 2020 and 2032.
Koch and Erickson talked about technique, specifically the fine points of a flying 200 meter time trial, and 3-up sprint tactics. Then the kids got a chance to put their learning into action.
Missy Erickson is a Word Cup medalist, five-time national champion and US record holder said the following: For us to become a nation with a once again strong history and success rate in track cycling, we need to invest in the juniors. Not only does spending three hours with them cost me absolutely nothing, but giving back to the developing junior athletes reminds me why I loved the track community right from the beginning. There’s nothing better than seeing their smiling faces, eager eyes, and their willingness to learn. They are the future world and olympic champions, but they won’t be without elite athletes coming forward sharing knowledge and showing them what they dream of doing is possible. She runs the Missile Mentor Program for Junior women, and the Lemonade Exchange, which distributes donated cycling equipment to athletes in need.
“I had a lot of fun, it’s always a pleasure to work with junior athletes. My hope is the community, coaches & international governing body will continue to give the support necessary in all areas of life for these young cyclists as they move up through the ranks” said Nate Koch a member of the US National Track Cycling Team, and a co-holder of the US Record in the team sprint. He is coming off a successful trip to the Berlin 6-day sprint tournament, where he was a crowd favorite.
Encino Velodrome President John Stesney adds that, “We put on clinics like this because Juniors are the future of the sport, and because for a parent, the most beautiful words in the English language are ‘free of charge’.”