Geoffrey and Klara Worlitz lined up against BMX racing's best respective five- and six-year-old boys and 10-year-old girls at the 2017 Union Cycliste Internacionale BMX World Championships in Rock Hill, S.C.
The St. Helens brother and sister qualified for the July 25-29 competition from the Northwest Nationals in April in Redmond, but neither reached the quarterfinals after riding to 14 and 15 respective points in three qualifying heats, from which the four riders with the fewest points relative to order of finish advanced to the quarterfinals, on July 26 at the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track.
"I liked how fast I came off the starting line," said Geoffrey, No. 1 in his age group for the state finals scheduled for August 27 at the Molalla BMX Track.
The McBride Elementary kindergartener- and fifth-grader-to-be qualified for their first World Championships in just the right spring, as the races returned to the United States for the first time in 16 years.
"The track was easy and kind of smooth, and I got to make new friends in our tent, and I got to watch my favorite superstar, Olivia Armstrong [a 17-year-old from Bend who won her third and fourth world championships this year], race," said Klara, whose other favorite sport is softball and who made a friend from Las Vegas and another from Pennsylvania.
In Geoffrey's class of 54 riders, 27 were American and seven (the second-most) were Canadian. In Klara's field of 57, 22 were American, and Canada and Colombia both qualified six, the next-most.
"It was exciting for us [Geoffrey and Klara's parents, Wendi and Daniel] and it was exciting for them," Wendi said. "We didn't think that we could go because of the funds, but we were able to go [by selling Krispy Kreme donuts at Wal-Mart in St. Helens, collecting bottles and cans, holding a garage sale and through flipgive.com [which gives cash back for "shopping, eating out and traveling"], then it got real that they were going, and it taught them the value of a dollar and working for it if they wanted to go."
Americans Joseph Mather, David Allen and Henry Leners swept the top three finishes in the 5- and 6-year-old boys' championship round.
Danica Anderson (U.S.) beat Nicole Foronda Castro (Colombia) and Portia Eden (Australia) for the 10-year-old girls' crown.
Team U.S.A. left France and Colombia in the dust through four days of 20- and 24-inch-wheel races with 51 medals (19 gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze) to 12 for the French and 11 for the Colombians.
The Worlitzes have raced non-stop since February, and McCormick Park's Columbia River BMX track is open to BMXers from May to October, Wendi said.
Geoffrey got to ride around on a strider bike, which helps toddlers learn to balance, when he was two years old, and his father helped him get the hang of the Columbia River BMX track at McCormick Park in St. Helens, and Klara got into it by watching her brother.
Geoffrey needs four more wins to become an Expert [as 10 wins make an Intermediate and 20 wins make an Expert], and Klara is a single win from becoming an Intermediate.
Geoffrey, with his rank, is the early favorite in the state finals.
"All he wants to do is ride his bike, ride his bike, and now he wants to go off jumps at the track, which scares his mom half to death," Wendi said.
In the meantime, Columbia River BMX is scheduled to host a Race for Life to benefit Portland's Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Saturday with sign-ups from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m., races at 11:20 a.m., an awards presentation at 12:30 p.m., a barbecue at 1 p.m. near the playground and a free helmet fitting and giveaway, courtesy of the City of St. Helens' Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission, at 1:30 p.m., as part of a new riders clinic.
Contact Paul Barlow of St. Helens' Barlow Bikes at 971-563-8786 for more information.
2017 UCI BMX World Championships
Novant Health BMX Supercross Track, Rock Hill, S.C.
Medal count (Including all 20- and 24-inch-wheel amateur classes)
USA 51 (19 gold, 15 silver, 17 bronze)
France 12 (5 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze)
Colombia 11 (2 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze)
Australia 9 (3 gold, 4 silver, 2 bronze)
Netherlands 8 (4 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze)
Great Britain 5 (5 silver)
Canada 5 (2 silver, 3 bronze)
New Zealand 3 (3 gold)
Venezuela 3 (2 gold, 1 bronze)
Switzerland 3 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
Argentina 3 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
Chile 3 (1 gold, 2 bronze)
Germany 2 (1 gold, 1 silver)
Belgium 2 (2 bronze)
Denmark 2 (1 silver, 1 bronze)
Bolivia 1 (1 bronze)
Brazil 1 (1 bronze)