Can a champion snowboarder transition to elite BMX racing? If you're X Games gold medal winner Kevin Hill, who raced BMX professionally as a young man, and you're riding a new Gates belted bike, the answer is: No sweat.
“Everyone asks: ‘Do BMX and snowboarding go hand-in-hand?’ The answer is a definitive yes,” says Canadian Kevin Hill. “They are very similar except that snowboarding uses gravity and BMX is self-powered. BMX is even more strength-training intensive than snowboarding. Both sports use the art of pumping, which is a key factor in getting that extra edge on the competition.”
Hill is best known for his exploits in Snowboardcross, also called Snowboard X, a rowdy event where multiple boarders race down a course together, flying over jumps, railing corners, jostling for position and avoiding wipeouts. Collisions are frequent. Like BMX, it is not a sport for wimps. Hill took second at the 2012 Winter X Games, made the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 and raced in Sochi, Russia, and then won Winter X Games gold in 2015. Watch his winning run. But he was racing BMX long before he discovered snowboardcross. “I’ve been BMX racing since the age of nine. I turned pro at 19, raced professionally for five years and then took a break to focus on snowboardcross and the Olympics. Now I’m back at it at the age of 31 and loving it just as much as I ever did,” says Hill, who lives in Vernon, British Columbia.
Hill rides a Gates belt drive Yess BMX bike and races for team Pandemic/Yess. The UCI this year changed its rules to allow Gates belts in elite-level BMX events, including the Olympics and World Cup races. Hill is impressed. “The Gates drive is amazingly smooth and stiff. I’ve never felt anything like it. From the second I stepped on the pedals I had 100 percent confidence.” At 31 years old, his competitive spirit remains strong. “I’m always aiming for the podium in everything I do. I could say that I just want to have fun but that would be a lie. Winning is fun. Losing isn’t.”