Spotlight: Jessie Smith 2019 Junior World Champ

Monday, January 13, 2020

Could you give the fans some history of how you were introduced to BMX?

I was first introduced by family friends! My family is quite big, 3 siblings and a mum and dad who were all heavily involved in sport. We played field hockey and those hockey friends asked if we wanted to go to a local club night. We tried it and loved it! Just went down on some shitty bikes that we picked up from the local dump, nothing special but it was enough for me to fall in love.

What was growing up in New Zealand like for you as a racer, was there a big supportive community?

Growing up racing BMX in New Zealand was great!! I grew up in a very small town called Gisborne. Fun fact (First city to see the sun every day). Anyway, Gisborne is very far away from every other city. My family would have to drive 4 plus hours to reach a local track, so in saying that my club was amazing! Amazing coaches and amazing families who loved the sport as much as my family did. They supported my family, helped us learn the ropes and not long later we were a full-blown BMX family that traveled many miles to get to races! I learned so much from that little city and I have many thanks for all those people who helped me learn, grow and appreciate a lot of things! The community within the wider BMX community growing up was great too. It seemed as if everyone just wanted you to improve.

If you had to give an overview of the difference in racing talent in New Zealand, compared to like parts of Europe and the US, what would you say?

That’s a bloody good question and one I have to think about! I’d say... in the US from what I’ve seen and experienced is that the riders are very powerful but not as technically advanced as riders from Europe. US tracks have flat hills and usually flat tracks (apart from some SX tracks) so they have adapted to be very strong and powerful. Compared to Europe the tracks are technical and you must be able to manual and jump the most often steep rollers, doubles etc. I’d say the talent that has come out and continues to come out of Europe is insane!! Not only the guys but also the girls, pushing their skills to the next level is so cool to see. I would love to say that NZ has the best riders but that’s not always the case, we have tracks that are in-between Europe and USA. But I will say that the talent in NZ is very bright and exciting. The difference between Europe and US is power over skills and the difference between NZ and the other countries is we have an overall balance, good skills, good power but we seem to be too nice some times 😂

Say you were a BMX travel agent, what tracks should we visit in NZ, foods we have to eat and 1 non-BMX related tourist attraction that is a must-see?

The best tracks to visit would be, Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Rotorua old track and Taupo! Just some of my favs. Foods to try in NZ is a good old mince and cheese pie, crayfish which is lobster and Hangi the native people to NZ (māori) which is meat and veggies put into the ground to cook! I have so many cool tourist attractions that you could visit but one of my favorites is the Waitomo Caves! You get to explore the underground, learn basic rope skills and see some amazing Speleothems (cave decorations).

Growing up, did you think being a Junior World Champ was even a possibility, or was it your number one goal out of the gate (see the pun I did there? lol)

A massive goal of mine and I’m sure I could speak for most young BMXers, a goal is to wear the rainbow jersey! I never really thought about it much when I was young as I was always thinking about what I was trying to achieve in that year! The possibility didn’t become reality until I won both World titles at the 2017 World Champs in Rockhill-USA. That’s when I knew and truly believed I could become Junior Women World Champion.

What's your normal wake up routine like on race day?

Wake up haha, check my phone, breakfast, go over the race day plan with my coach, make lunch/sort snacks and drinks, listen to some tunes, wait for Laura to make me coffee and then head to the track!

How do you break up your training during the race season from Monday - Sunday?

Monday- gym and sprints
Tuesday- Track and core session
Wednesday- gym and Track
Thursday- Track and core session
Friday-Gym and sprints
Saturday- Track and sprints
Sunday- Rest day!

In your career, what was the most nonglamorous experience you ever had while traveling to race?

Well, when I was younger I use to sleep in our trailer that held all of our bikes and bags. To be honest I loved it but it was not glamorous!

On the flip side, what was the most glamorous experience you ever had, where you thought to yourself - how did I get here?

For sure when Sarah Walker let me take her first-class seat for the last 4 hours of our 17-hour flight home from this years Worlds! I had a shower in a plane! That’s when I thought how did I get here, oh and when I tried caviar for the first time. Amazing by the way!

Have you started planning your 2020 seasons? What’s your goal? 

Yes I have!!

- I want to get finals at the World Championships
- Make a World Cup Podium
- Be selected for the Olympics

Quick Questions - Don’t think too hard!

- Favourite track in the world? Paris SX
- Favourite pre-race food? Don’t really have a fav pre-race food, but maybe some good steak and mixed vegies?
- Preferred cheat meal if calories wasn’t an issue? Has to be KFC.
- Morning or Night Person? Night for sure
- The person you look forward to the most to see when you travel to race? Oooooo now this could hurt some people, I have to say my Whanau (family) which are Laura Smulders, Merel Smulders and Saya Sakakibara.
- Proper warm-up or ride to warm up? Proper warm-up!
- You hit a bump, would you rather have a flat tire or no chain in a race?
It depends on how flat the tyre is. If it’s just flat then I’d go for the flat tyre, no chain is okay cause you can pump. But if the tyre blows then you’re in the shit.
- Greatest racer of all time.
Male - Sam Willoughby.
Female - Mariana Pajon

Jessie Smith Bike Check

Frame: Meybo
Fork: SD
Bars: Renthal
Stem: Custom by Segers
Grips: Renthal
Seatpost: Box
Seat: Box
Pedals: HT
Cranks: Shimano
Sprocket: Renthal
Front Tire: Tioga 1.6
Front Wheel: SDx
Rear Tire: Tioga 1.6
Rear Wheel: SDx
Hubs: SDx
Disk brake: Shimano

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