Nick Bruce and the Contest that Didn't Count

With an Olympic spot in his crosshairs, Nick Bruce entered 2020 with his focus at an all-time high. The United States wasn't number one in the ranking and Nick wasn't even number one in the country, but he had a game plan to change both of those things. 

Nick's journey started with a contest in Tala, Mexico early March. He made the trip and took the win. 

He returned home for a couple of days to attend to some personal business and then flew to Guadalajara, Mexico to compete again. Nick once again took the top spot - and this time shook up the rankings in his favor... or so he thought. 

Immediately after returning to his home in Ohio, the world started shutting down. BMX events were getting cancelled, travel bans were falling into place, and it seemed like the Olympic Qualification period was a wrap. 

Then, Nick received some unexpected bad news. The Olympic qualifying period - which was set to end on May 11th - was adjusted to end on March 3rd. The results from the Guadalajara contest would not count and his advancement in the ranking would be omitted. 

This understandably left Nick confused, angry, and desperate for a solution. With the recent addition of two more World Cup events in 2021, Nick is definitely still a contender, but the hurdle this has thrown in front of him can't be ignored. 

We caught up with Nick to get his perspective on the contest that didn't count.


When and where was this contest exactly?

The contest was March 7th and it was on the outskirts of Guadalajara, México!

To be clear, why exactly were you going?

Team USA and I had a game plan to maximize UCI C1 points in order to put USA in the best position points-wise for 2020. Two C1 events popped up on the calendar in Mexico - right as I finished building up my warehouse set up - and I knew that was my opportunity to earn some important ranking points. I actually had to fly home between contests to finish up my second house and get it rent-ready, so to go down to Mexico both weekends in a row made for a very productive week.  

Tell us about the contest. What was the course like? Who else was there?

The course was decent - a little tighter than most contests, but it had a nice box and fun transfer lines! Kevin Peraza was there, along with Victor Peraza. Teresa Fernandez was there all the way from Spain. 

There were also a ton of local Mexican riders that I haven’t seen before and they were all killing it, which was amazing to see. I love Mexico for that reason. From the local riders to the crowds, they purely love BMX. 

And you took the win, right?

I did! It was my 2nd UCI C1 win. 


Because this was a UCI C1-class event that fell under the Olympic Qualification period, Olympic points were to be awarded. What exactly did your points here do for you and for the USA?

My points after winning the second Mexico C1 put the USA ahead of Australia in the rankings, which means the USA would get two riders competing in the Olympic Games - being Justin Dowell and myself. So, it was huge news for Team USA and was what felt like a great way to build momentum for the qualifying year. 

Right after this event, the world pretty much hit pause. At what point were you made aware that the UCI had decided these points wouldn’t count?

Yes - the world hit a big pause. On March 15th, I found out my points from that C1 event were not going to count. 

The way it was handled and announced made it seem like the qualification period was over, too. It felt like a huge punch to the gut after knowing USA could not be the number one country. I was even told I was the elected alternate, which was a huge honor, but just weird to accept when just a week ago we were celebrating the opposite. 

I also feel for Teresa, who came all the way from Spain to earn her country some valuable points in women’s BMX. 

Prior to the event, was there any mention that this event may not count given the state of the world?

There were no mentions of the event not counting. I was very cautious when planning my travels and worried if it was worth going to, but there were no warnings about flying to or from Mexico and the points seemed worth it.

Were you ever given a specific reason why exactly this event wouldn't count?

The claimed COVID-19 made international travel difficult and there would be no basis for any appeal or reexamination on any case. 

You may not know the answer to this, but do you know if there were any travel bans at the time that impacted this event? Do you feel like all of competitors had an equal opportunity to show up and compete?

I am almost certain, based on the research I have done along with my teammates and the higher-ups from Team USA, that there were no travel bans and it was an equal opportunity for BMX freestyle athletes to travel to Mexico and compete. 


So, without these points, what did it do to your standing and the USA’s standing?

Basically, it just put USA back behind Australia in the Olympic rankings. In the Power Ranking - the way USA selects the rider or riders they will send - Justin Dowell and I are currently tied, but with the tie breaker rule, he would be the rider selected to compete. 

Is this a done deal? There’s no chance of getting these points?

It seems like the only way to earn points is with World Cups once they are back in the picture.

I’m sure you and your USA Cycling team are far more informed about the rules than I am. Is there a section that says the can make changes like this?

I honestly don’t know. It was a confusing and frustrating time. All I know is I had two lawyers that deal with this type of case looking into it. But now, with The Olympics being postponed one whole year and supposedly two World Cups added into the equation, it was time to refocus on that, rather than fight for C1 points. If the qualification period was officially over, I think we would have kept fighting and found a way to make the points count as they were rightfully earned. 

This one has to hurt. How did you deal with it personally?

I bought a punching bag. I’m typically not an angry person, but this built some serious frustration that was coming out in many ways and I found the punching bag becoming a healthy way to cope with all of it. 

Do you understand where the UCI is coming from here or do you find this decision entirely unfair?

I honestly can’t wrap my head around the way it was handled - especially to backdate it after the event was done. A lot of riders traveled, a lot of money was spent. To just act like it didn’t happen and not hearing out anyone’s opinions or facts seems unfair.


We’ve got two more World Cups to gather points for The Olympics in early 2021. I know it’s still a ways out, but what’s your mentality like going into these?

There is a lot of time from now until then, but I love competing in World Cups. I am just looking forward to getting out there and doing what I love.

Is is safe to say Nick Bruce’s Olympic dream is still alive?

100%. It is very much alive! Thank you for asking.

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