Brian Fox Has Never Been More Ready
Brian Fox doesn't mince words: He is fully out for redemption this year. At the inaugural Nitro World Games in 2016, BMX Triple Hit was a surprise contender for most exciting event of the semifinals. Among a series of events that are specifically designed to be nothing but wall-to-wall highlight reels, that's saying something. It's all subjective, but the story goes that the Triple Hit field was so stacked that every rider had to throw bangers to even have a shot at advancing. We saw that scenario play out in this year's Triple Hit qualifiers as well, where the biggest field in all of qualifying competed for precious few semifinal slots. But in 2016, the rider who won the Triple Hit qualifier didn't even get to compete in the semifinals. That rider was Fox.
"Going to the Nitro World Games qualifier was a huge deal for me as an upcoming rider in BMX," he says. "I still remember that feeling of how stoked I was when I received an invitation to try and qualify." He came out and practiced for both Triple Hit and Best Tricks, but he initially felt like Best Tricks was going to be his best shot at success, so that's where he put his focus. "It wasn't until I came back to actually qualify that I felt comfortable on the Triples, and I buckled down and got ready for it." It turned out that he was more ready than he realized. "It was my turn to go, and I remember getting this feeling of being ready -- calm, collected, focused. So I dropped in, and my first run was a banger!" he says. On that very first qualifying run, he stuck a backflip barspin, a 720, and a double backflip -- boom boom boom. And not only was it a run worthy of qualifying, it was a run worthy of finishing at the top of the leaderboard in qualifying, making him one of the favorites heading into the 2016 semifinals. He had also qualified for Best Tricks. His Triple Hit qualifying run is at the beginning of this highlights edit:
As with this year, in 2016 semifinals were held the day before the finals in Salt Lake City. Fox had made the journey to the big dance and was ready to prove his qualifying runs were no fluke. But then, his worst nightmare. "This was such an accomplishment for me to make it to the semifinals, so I think I was a bit nervous," he says. "I remember putting a lot of time and effort into the Best Tricks jump, more so than the Triples, so I think that's what really screwed me up." On his last practice run before the Triple Hit semifinal started, he attempted a 1080 on the second set and over-rotated it, landing on his left side and separating his shoulder. "That was the end of my journey," he says. "I was crushed. That was the worst feeling I've ever experienced."
Maybe that was the end of his NWG journey in 2016, but it was definitely not the overall end. Due to the promise he showed last year, Fox earned an automatic invite to the semifinals this year, so his journey is very likely just beginning. He says he fell into a bit of a mental slump for many months following that injury and the consequences it caused. But it may have been all for the best. "I turned it into motivation, and it was the greatest motivation I've ever had, seriously changed my life for the better, incredibly!" he says. "I'm coming back on a mission, more ready than I've ever been for anything in my life."
Fox resides in the East Coast BMX mecca of Raleigh, North Carolina. A Florida native, he got into BMX because his dad worked in a bike shop. He started out racing, moved to freestyle, and hasn't looked back. Clearly Fox's dad is a big influence in his life, as evidenced in the video above where his first thought is to give his dad a call after winning the qualifier. With that kind of support, he's been competing for about five years, he says, with more than half of those as a pro. Like many athletes, his competition prep includes not just work on the bike -- he focuses on strength training and cardio as part of his regimen. He also cites being mentally prepared as a key to success, especially after his experience at last year's NWG. "Knowing what I know now about this event, I will definitely be much more prepared than I was last year. Both mentally and physically," he says.
Part of his preparation is knowing the event and what the judges are looking for, which he clearly does. "The judging at NWG is very straight to the point," he says. "By that I mean that they are only looking for the biggest and craziest tricks." We couldn't have said it better. Tickets are still available for the 2017 Nitro World Games, which will be broadcast live from Salt Lake City on NBC and streamed live online on June 24.