Spotlight: Vineta Pētersone

Vineta Pētersone has been on fire this year! Who is she? Well, she’s a 4 time national champion in Latvia, she’s an Olympian, a Redbull Pump Track qualifier for worlds this year, and I knew this girl was special when I saw her race in person at Worlds in 2017. Learn more about Vineta Pētersone below: 

How were you introduced to BMX?

I grew up in the county side, and from the very beginning followed my big brother’s (Arnis Pētersons) footsteps. At first I was just next to the track but as soon as I could get on two wheels, it was full race mode from age 3.

I read that you’ve skied in both the national and junior international level, so I was curious if you were still involved.

I’ve done some cross country skiing, not so much anymore. Coming from an active family it was a no brainer that we would be doing sports in winter snow as well. So I grew up doing BMX in the summer and was on skis in the winter. I had some good results, I was the leading National Champion for years. I race internationally and even had my eyes on the Sochi Winter games back in 2014.

One cool thing was that I got to see the world during winter and summer, there were places where BMX took me that skiing didn’t.

How has your skiing background benefited you on the track and what’s one cool thing about doing both sports?

I mean overall endurance, upper body strength and staying active all year long was very beneficial. One cool thing was that I got to see the world during winter and summer, there were places where BMX took me that skiing didn’t, and the other way around. I have traveled and seen so much because of BMX and skiing. Both sports are fun and exciting in their own ways!

In your racing career so far, could you walk us through the highs and lows?

Well if we start from the very beginning, I was doing pretty good from the first races. Winning my first European championships back in 2005 as a 6 year old in Girls 8, and over time winning 6 other times at the challenge class level – I’ve had a few W2 and W4 placings. I guess my peek was 2017 as Junior. My other highs include becoming National Champion, Europe vice-champion, 3rd at the World Championships, and winning the Europe Cup overall. The year later was good too, solid start in the elite category making my first World Cup main, a few semi finals and finishing top 10 in the WC overall. Last few years might haven’t shined so bright, but my focus was on the Olympic Games and I made it!

What’s the race scene like in Latvia and what do you think sets a Latvian racer apart from other racers?

Unfortunately theres not that big of a competition for me in Latvia, but I’m happy to see more and more girls at the races here. We have a big obstacle to overcome for young riders during winter, with not much track time available over the cold periods, it’s hard to keep them motivated and ready for a new season winter after winter. So the ones who get back on the bike in the spring are more ready to spend their time at the track.

You’ve accomplished a lot in a short time, do you still feel motivated everyday to train? What’s keeping you hungry?

The Olympics opened a new perspective. BMX at the Olympics is not just few steps but floors bigger of an event and that’s super exciting. Of course Covid has hit us hard and we haven’t had many races to look forward to for a while now, but I’m looking forward to a busier calendar year with races all over the world.

A lot of racers felt lost during the beginning of Covid, especially with the Olympics being pushed out a year. How did Covid impact you?

For the first couple of months it was fun just riding my bike, having time to relax and having fun with friends. When I realized how much I’ve been away from the races in the past years, I came to realize that being home was nice but I started to miss racing really quickly. Not knowing when, where and how it will resume, was getting harder and harder and it still is. There are a lot of restrictions still and not that many races.

As a four time National Champion, how is the future of women’s BMX in Latvia?

We have a few girls looking good in their classes at the international level. Hopefully if they keep up the good work then maybe we’ll see those girls join me in elite category in a few years.

Who are your coaches?

I’ve been training with same coach ever since I was around 11. I also trained at the World Cycling Center in Switzerland for two years with coach Tyrone Johns, Liam Philips and a few others at the ID camps. Each of the coaches have brought something a little different.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years with BMX?

Definitely still racing, with an eye on the next two Olympics. It will be a lot of work but I want to reach consistent top positions, and maybe explore racing in the United States. 

Quick Questions

  • Racer you look forward to seeing the most at a UCI race: Miguel Calixto ❤️
  • Instagram account you lurk the most: Caroline Buchanan
  • Post race treat: Chill day at home 😌
  • Shampoo & Conditioner: Mixing it up all the time, nothing seems working 🥲
  • Favorite Red Bull Pump Track: 2019 Worlds track in Bern.
  • Least favourite UCI sanctioned race track: We’ve raced some pretty weird track in China few years ago.
  • Preferred Music: Indie Rock
  • Something you can’t leave at home: Phone and face mask and then you’re good to go.
  • Last person you texted and what was it? To my coast – 👍🏽 (thumbs up) haha

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