Nick Bruce competes in the BMX freestyle finals at the 2019 UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup on April 21, 2019 in Hiroshima, Japan.
Consistency paid off in bronze for Nick Bruce, who laid down solid runs in the last two rounds of competition to score his first medal in BMX park at the three-year-old UCI Urban Cycling World Championships Sunday in Chengdu, China.
The Youngstown, Ohio, rider, known for his 720 downside tailwhip, landed his signature move and added an excellent 540 flair in a strong first run in the final that netted him 90.40 points and a spot on the podium.
Bruce’s medal comes after two frustrating years at the world championships. At the inaugural event in Chengdu in 2017, he watched from the sidelines while his teammates competed in the final, not having made the cut. He did make it to the medal round in 2018, but landed in 11th place.
This year was different.
“I was really excited for the opportunity to do the tricks that I’ve been working on in a run and I was just really trying to focus on what I wanted to do,” Bruce told USA Cycling. “It means a lot to land on the podium this year, the last two years I’ve had a really difficult time at the world championships, so to be able to brush that off and go out there and perform is a huge win for me, medal or not.”
The 27-year-old constructed his medal performance slowly. He began with an eighth-place finish in Friday’s qualification with 78.49 points, the top American score of the initial round but well behind the result of Japan’s Rimu Nakamura, who topped the field with 85.76 points. Bruce built on the result in the semifinal, where his big 92.50 put him in third position, just behind Nakamura this time, then went all out in the final, posting 90.40 to maintain his bronze medal standing.
Australia’s Brandon Loupos, the bronze medalist from 2018, won gold this time with 93.20 points, followed closely by countryman Logan Martin, the 2017 world champion, who took silver with 92.90.
Nineteen-year-old Justin Dowell of the USA, the defending world champion and 2019 Pan American Games bronze medalist, finished just off the podium in fourth with 88.20. Team USA’s Daniel Sandoval, a finalist in 2017 and 2018, was sixth with 87.20.