Young Salt Lake City BMX rider races to the top

Story by LAUREN BERG

Kolin Powell, 15, a native of Salt Lake City, is doing unheard of things in the world of BMX.

For the last two and a half years, he’s been taking after his father, Brent Powell, a former BMX racer. His successes inspired Kolin to try out for BMX racing.

After getting into the sport and realizing he liked it, Kolin was introduced to a racing team, Dirt Militia. Team manager Billy Schuler has 20 years of BMX racing under his belt and leads an experienced team of 15 racers.

Schuler was introduced to Kolin and Brent through a mutual friend. The team needed more racers, so Schuler decided to give Kolin a chance.

“The first time I met him I knew he’d be a good fit for the team,” Schuler said.

Kolin was pushed into his first race after showing up at the track just expecting to watch. After only 30 minutes of practice he competed in his first intermediate-level BMX race and won. This foreshadowed Kolin’s future races.

Kolin Powell takes the lead (on right) in BMX race. Photo courtesy of Billy Schuler.

He began working with Schuler and the team and taking pointers from his dad. And he continued to excel in races.

His next goal was to make it to the 2010 Utah State Championship.

First Kolin had to compete in four qualifying preliminary races. The races are based on a point system, and are different depending on the racing level. Kolin placed high in points in each of the races, making him that much closer to getting to the state race.

Even after the four qualifying races, he still had to wait for an invitation to the championship. He was offered a spot and took second place.

The following year, 2011, Kolin tried to make it to state again. This time he not only surpassed everyone in his intermediate-level class during preliminary races but also out-raced the expert-level class.

Again he was invited to Utah’s state championship. After completing the race, Kolin found out he had done exactly what he had done in the previous races: He had earned more points than anyone in the competition, including the experts, and he won the Utah State Championship title.

“In all my years of racing I’ve never seen an intermediate win state … it just doesn’t happen,” Shuler said.

For Kolin’s win he was awarded the No. 1 state plate that he gets to display on his bike for the entire year. The state plates are put at the front of the racers’ bikes, which represents the place they took in the state race.

After being so successful in both state races, Kolin decided to give the 2011 national race in Las Vegas a try. For the first race he was up against 17 others in his intermediate class from all around the country.

“You’re racing the top caliber guys in your class,” Shuler said.

After placing in the top-three for a handful of preliminary races, Kolin had earned his way into the main national race. To add to his other impressive trophies, he got to take home the national trophy as well. He had won the race in Las Vegas.

Kolin said that is his biggest accomplishment so far.

Schuler said receiving a title like that is “unheard of,” especially for being at an intermediate level with less than three years’ experience.

His future goal is to follow in the footsteps of his favorite BMX rider, Mike Day, and perhaps go pro some day. Kolin said he’d like to be able to travel and see all the different race tracks.

His daily routine consists of training and riding. Once a week he rides at the track. “I don’t even have a social life because of that,” Kolin said, jokingly.

Kolin hasn’t broken any bones yet, but has 36 scars as a result of taking many falls and crashes. Those injuries are proof that he’s passionate and works hard at the sport that he loves.