The 2019 UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup series got underway this weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, and Hannah Roberts found herself back in a familiar spot.
The 17-year-old from Buchanan, Michigan, who’s long been one of the top BMX freestyle park competitors in the world, repeated as champion with 91.25 points in Sunday’s final.
Fellow American Perris Benegas, the 2018 world champion, came in third with 84.00 points, just behind second-place finisher Lara Marie Lessmann of Germany, with 84.12 points.
Roberts won the title in Hiroshima in 2018 and went on to win the world cup series for the second year in a row. She also won the inaugural world title in the discipline in 2017.
This year’s event in Hiroshima saw a record number of women with over 40 competitors. It was enough to hold a semifinal, and Roberts and Benegas came out of that in the top two spots. The two were part of a U.S. podium sweep at the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships last fall, with Benegas winning the world title and Roberts claiming bronze, with Angie Marino in second.
The U.S. had five women finish in the top nine in Hiroshima, with Chelsea Wolfe taking fifth, Marino finishing sixth and Nina Buitrago taking ninth.
Three U.S. riders finished top ten on the men’s side. Kevin Peraza Garcia was just off the podium in fourth place, Justin Dowell was seventh and Nick Bruce eighth. Dowell claimed the men’s world title last fall.
BMX freestyle will make its Olympic debut in 2020, joining BMX racing, which has been an Olympic discipline since 2008. The qualification period for nations to earn quota spots for the 2020 Games began in November 2018 and runs through May 11, 2020.