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.