Today we’re learning more about Sarah Nicki, an Australian-born athlete who has her feet in both the BMX and MTB World. At fifteen years old, Sarah is already working with some of the top Australian athletes in the cycling world, like Caroline Buchanan and Natalya Diehm. With this kind of support, it’s safe to assume that we have another Australian superstar in the making.
Sponsors: Colony BMX & Back Bone BMX
City: Canberra, Australia
Hi Sarah! OK, let’s start with the basics, how did you get into BMX?
My dad decided to try BMX racing, so I went to the local track to watch and fell in love. I begged to start racing and started riding the local skateparks around the same time.
I see you’re super active in the MTB world too, how did that come about? Caroline Buchanan also wanted me to ask about the 365-day ride challenge!
I started riding MTB and did a couple of local downhill events a few years ago, but haven’t ridden much MTB since Covid hit. I’m always up for any kind of riding especially if I have someone to ride with.
When the opportunity came up to attend the Trek Momentum camp I was super stoked. I’d never ridden slopestyle before but it was a lot of fun. With Haz & Caroline’s encouragement, I entered the Highline Slopestyle competition a few weeks later and really enjoyed the experience. I’m definitely keen to do more and keep meeting up and riding with all of the women involved.
When I was 9, I set myself a challenge of riding every day for a year. I was at the BMX track a lot between racing, gates practice and coaching, I would ride the skatepark on the days between and ride some plastic ramps or do sprints on the street on the other days. On rainy days I would ride an underground carpark (garage). It was hard on hot or freezing days but by the time I was a few months through I was determined to complete my challenge.
Who are your inspirations in BMX and MTB?
Caroline Buchanan – Caroline is my number 1 inspiration, she is so supportive and can shred on any kind of bike. She has been there for me for a long time and always has time for the kids that look up to her.
Natalya Diehm – The first time I met Natalya was at the Vans Pro Cup in 2018, she was preparing for the event but was happy to talk to me and I really enjoyed watching her ride. She had pushed through so many injuries already and watching her progress from then to the Olympics was pretty amazing. She is always willing to offer advice when I need it and is so encouraging of all the Australian Freestyle girls.
Nina Buitrago – Nina was the first overseas rider that I looked up to. She has a really cool style of riding that is so different from mine and I hope that I can keep riding BMX as long as she has. Nina also does a lot to help the Women’s BMX community around the world.
Harriet Burbidge-Smith – Haz is like my annoying big sister but in the best possible way. We used to race at the same BMX club and she was always there, training, filming clips and picking on me. I was always impressed by her jumping skills but I’ve been especially inspired by everything she has done since she swapped to MTB.
What’s been so far, the most amazing and memorable experience you’ve had on your BMX and MTB?
The most amazing and memorable experience I’ve had is riding in the Vans Pro Cup in Sydney in 2019. I got to ride all of the practice sessions and ride unscored in the event. All of the women were so supportive and welcoming and it was my first big Freestyle competition experience.
Trek Momentum was definitely the most amazing thing I have done in MTB. The whole experience was better than I imagined and I walked away with new skills, more confidence and lots of new friends.
Do you feel there’s a difference in the level of support and engagement you’re getting with your involvement in BMX vs MTB?
As I hadn’t been doing MTB too long before Covid hit and have only really started doing more recently, my mentorship and encouragement have all come from Caroline & Haz. I hope to do more in the future however I think everyone knows BMX is my main sport, so the support is at a different level. In terms of the local scenes, MTB definitely has more female riders and events.
My mentors and sponsors in BMX have been the same for the last few years. In the last few months, I’ve had more encouragement to keep pushing to reach my goals and with the Ignite Scholarship I won last year, I’ve been able to attend more coaching sessions and purchase an airbag. Generally, we don’t have many competitions around here but I’ve attended more this year than ever.
Where do you want to see yourself within the next 5 years, what do you want to achieve?
I want to keep pushing my limits until I can be competitive on an international level. I’d love to work towards the World Championships and even the Olympics. I’d also love to keep working on my Slopestyle skills and confidence riding different things. I’m hoping to start coaching next year when I turn 16, and I want to do what I can to help grow the Women’s BMX scene.
@leer068’s Wants to know what your parents do and we would love to know their level of involvement and if they’re supportive of you possibly building a career in cycling?
My parents don’t come from a BMX or cycling background but my dad skated as a teenager and decided to try BMX when I was young. As I became more involved in BMX and bikes, my whole family got more involved too, especially back when I was racing. My parents are supportive of me building a career in cycling as long as I’m happy and doing it because it’s what I want.
Outside of bikes, what else are you into?
I’m a competitive cheerleader, I skate occasionally and I like hanging out with my family & friends.
In a normal week, where would we normally find you riding?
I spend most of my riding time at my local skatepark Belco. On weekends there is always somewhere to ride and someone to ride with, so I usually mix it up depending on what I’m working on and where my friends are riding.
@bailieboys.bmx wants to know what are your hot tips for dropping into Belco bowl?
Belco bowl is a big deep bowl at my local skatepark, I love it as it’s pretty vert and tall. When approaching the drop, think of hitting it on a wider angle so you can carve around the bowl. Try not to bunny hop in to avoid landing flat. Relax, don’t overthink it and trust your skills.
@bianca.rides wants to know if you feel any pressure when you compete?
Not really, only the pressure I put on myself to make a good run but I mostly just try to go out there and enjoy it. I try to make small improvements with every comp I do.
What’s on your schedule in the near future?
For the next few months, I’ll mostly just be training unless something pops up. All my upcoming events on my BMX are towards the end of the year. Our big local jam, ACT Jam, the World Cup round on the Gold Coast and the National Championships.