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BMX Champion

Jessica Steeves doesn’t get nervous watching her 14-year-old son, BMX racer Alex Steeves, pedal at high speeds over jumps and around berms.

“It’s because he’s so smooth and fluid,” Steeves said Monday at the Medford BMX track in Bear Creek Park. “He’s a natural.”

“He even crashes smooth,” chimed in freestyle BMX rider Paul Andis, 21, who is one of Alex’s mentors. “It’s almost too easy for him.”

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Alex, who’s been riding since he was 2 and racing since he was 5, won the cruiser title for his age group at the USA BMX Grand Nationals, the largest BMX race in the world. The title came with a 7-foot trophy that the Steeveses proudly display in their living room next to the TV.

About 60 riders his age competed in the qualifying rounds, and only eight of the fastest riders made it to the main event.

At the Grand Nationals, held at the River Spirit Expo in Tulsa, Okla., Alex also placed fourth in the expert class for his age group.

Most riders average between 18 and 26 mph, depending on the size of the start hill, the length of the track and the size of the jumps, said veteran BMX racer Adam Treadwell, who manages Alex’s nationally ranked team, Black Box Industries.

Alex competes throughout the year — about once or twice a month — at national racing events across the country. Typically, he races in the cruiser (24-inch wheels) and/or expert (20-inch wheels) classes, but starting Jan. 9, he’ll also race in the Olympic Junior Development class. And, depending on his rankings in that class, he could qualify to train with the U.S. Olympic racing team at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California.

With his speed and signature grace on the track, Alex most likely will qualify, Treadwell said.

“(Alex) is a confident but humble individual,” Treadwell said. “He’s very stress-free, and his riding is stress-free and that is honestly one of the things that makes him so good.”

This year, Alex is already lined up to race at BMX events in Las Vegas, South Carolina, Florida, Washington, Nevada and Utah, his mother said.

“It keeps him out of trouble,” she added.

A freshman at North Medford High School, Alex said he studies during his lunch period so he can ride after school. He rides for several hours several times a week, either outside his house or at River City BMX in Grants Pass or the Medford BMX park.

He’s been the state champion for his age group every year since he started racing.

When he was about 8, he asked Andis, who was about 15 at the time, for some freestyle riding tips.

“Now, he’s better than I am,” Andis said.

 Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Alex Steeves, 14, a freshman at North Medford High School, works out at the Bear Creek BMX track in Medford Monday. Photos by Larry Stauth for the Mail Tribune
Alex Steeves