Despite just a few contests for girls and even less role models, female BMX is growing bigger and louder with every stomped trick, so to get some insights on the development of the girls', we caught up with the organiser of the upcoming BMX Worlds in Cologne (July 13-15th, 2012), Stephan Prantl, one of the biggest BMX events and the first to include a girls class
Interview by Heike Müller from XsportsSisters, translation by Bob Muscutt
Let’s start with a short personal statement on Girls BMX...
For me, girls have been a permanent feature of BMX competitions from the start. Although they were mostly put with the amateurs at first. And there were only a few competitors, maybe a handful of Germans. Moni Hinz and Monika Stellwag carried the female BMX torches at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s. Moni is still doing so. There were always girls involved in BMX, my sister used to do races too. But the real question is if you really get to grips with the bike or simply use it as a means of transport...
What got you to introduce the first Girls Class in 2004, when the event was still called BMX Masters?
It was a logical decision after the number of entrants increased. We wanted to give the girls a chance to compete under equal conditions and we also thought that it might lower the threshold for others. We wanted to give the girls their own space, to promote and encourage them. Competing against guys would have scared some girls off, I think.
What did you make of the success of the Girls Class at the 2010 Masters?
Girls BMX made a gigantic leap forwards between 2008 and 2010. Suddenly girls like Mini Park pulled Flairs and Backflips. But in my opinion, that was a natural development. When training facilities in parks and camps like Woodwart get better and better, it’s easy to understand. But I hadn’t expected such a massive rise in the level! That was refreshing. And together with the cool commentary and the reaction of the spectators who gave the girls tremendous support, all in all it was a clear vindication of our decision.
Do you have a favourite girl rider? Which of them stands out most?
I wouldn’t single out any one. I’m not that close up. As with the guys, personality makes a good girl rider. It’s always a combination of factors, a package.
What's special about Girls BMX?
I try not to see it separate from the guys. I see it as a whole. They all share a passion.
BMX is a sport for individualists. Everybody tries to progress and trains for him or herself.
I don’t know how the girls perceive themselves. I’d find it great if they are seen as a natural feature of BMX sport. That’s what I’d like to see for the future development of BMX sport.
What do you expect of the Girls Class in 2012?
I expect the girls to rock, to charge like the guys and show all they got! I'm expecting another giant leap forwards in performance, just like the male competitors. This year there are definitely three girl participants, who might do a Flair...
What’s your take on the obvious sexism in the scene, in the BMX media and BMX advertising?
I think it is really stupid! I’d also find a picture of a naked guy with a grip hiding his willy stupid. There’s no place for that in my opinion. But everyone is free to decide on their advertising and contributions. It just doesn’t appeal to me personally.
Were you the first BMX festival with a Girls Class?
We were at least amongst the first. Girls have always competed – whether freestyle or racing. BMX sport started with racing. The girls were always riding.
Stephan Prantl (43), Organizer of BMX Worlds Cologne 2012, has been BMX riding since 1981 BMX – for the first two years race, then freestyle. In 1984 he helped organize as a youngster the first BMX competitions in the Cologne Youth Park. In 1994 he was one of the organizers of the first BMX Worlds in the Youth Park. Before that he was mainly involved in German and European Championships.