A Low-Country BMX Jam in Photos

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A Low-Country BMX Jam in Photos

The Voodoo Jam in New Orleans draws the best flatland BMX riders in the world. Every year, the tricks get gnarlier, the talent gets younger, and the Jam gets bigger.
July 30, 2015, 5:45pm

Every July, some of the world's best BMX riders gather in the sweltering, low-country heat of New Orleans for Voodoo Jam, the biggest flatland competition in the country. After the X Games dropped flatland BMX from its program in 2004, pro rider Terry Adams and Scott O'Brien, a hype-man and MC for BMX events, organized Voodoo Jam, which has since become a mainstay in the flatland BMX circuit.

"A lot of flatland contests were influenced by Voodoo Jam," Adams says. "When it was in the X Games, flatland looked like a regular, organized sport. It was dry. But these guys are artists, and we wanted to showcase them in that way. So we brought the audience really close to the riders, and the connection is insane."

As the name suggests, flatland BMX athletes don't use ramp or jumps. On a smooth surface, the riders perform tricks and spins that look like a blend between cycling and breakdancing. The 2015 Voodoo Jam last Saturday, July 25, drew 56 professional, amateur, novice, and veteran riders from around the world.

The Japanese riders stood out from the crowd this year. In the expert class, two Japanese boys known as the Super Kids—Yu Shoji, 11, and Kira Komagata, 13—and a Japanese girl, Mai Nishikawa, finished on top. In the professional class, four Japanese riders qualified for the finals, and Yohei Uchino won second place. He was joined on the podium by Matthias Dandois, in first place, and Dez Maarsen, in third.

All photos by Aaron Nardi.

Voodoo champion Matthias Dandois and Yu Shoji, 11, look on during the pre-Jam practice as Yohei Uchino works on one of his signature spins.

Bo Wade made the trek to New Orleans from Redondo Beach, California. A fixture at the Voodoo Jam, Wade is a favorite among foreign competitors for for his California and attitude.

French rider Matthias Dandois has a unique flatland style, which led him to another win at Voodoo. Despite living in France, Dandois has a dedicated following in New Orleans.

Scott O'Brien hypes the crowd after Will Redd's run. Being so close to the athletes, the crowd at Voodoo brings a high level of energy to the event.

Viki Gomez is pushing flatland BMX in new directions, as seen in his unconventional bike set up: he opts for flat blocks with skateboard grip tape instead of the usual plastic or metal pedals.

After placing 1st and 3rd in expert class, the Super Kids performed a demo during the pro comp. Yu Shoji and Kira Komagata are among the best flatland BMX riders in the world.

FourThirty Brand-sponsored Kira Komagata glides through a link that's too complicated for most people to understand.

When Yu Shoji stomped this wild double decade, not only did the crowd go wild, but half the pro riders watching rushed the floor in celebration.

Naoto Tamaru was a crowd favorite, both during the competition and at the after party.

Pro rider and event organizer Terry Adams gave his bike to a young local ripper in need of a new ride. Connor Wensel was so blown away by Adams's gesture that he had tears in his eyes.

The top three riders compete in a ride-off to determine the champion. The ride-off format, originally a Voodoo Jam creation, has since been used in other events.