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(Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sophia Foresta is the #1 national amateur girl BMX rider. She rides at Rad Canyon BMX Park in South Jordan.
Young Utah BMX racer is on a fast track to success
South Jordan » The 13-year-old is first girl from Utah to claim national titles.
First Published May 16 2013 12:08 pm • Last Updated May 20 2013 01:23 pm

Sophia Foresta set an ambitious goal for herself last year: The 13-year-old South Jordan resident aimed to be the best BMX rider in her age group in the country.

She did it — and more. Sophia also claimed the national overall top amateur girl’s title for 2012, accumulating more points for wins against more competitors than any other female BMX racer in the nation. Sophia is the first female BMXer in Utah to claim both titles.

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"You can’t do anything to win it, you can just try to win every national, and that is all you can do," says Sophia.

In other words, be the best against all comers. Simple, right?

Yeah, if you’re Sophia Foresta.

"It’s racing," said Mike Kelly of Riverton, who has helped coach Sophia for the past three years. "There is nothing easy. What she did was a heck of an accomplishment."

Kelly and others who have watched Sophia train and race at local BMX tracks say they aren’t surprised by Sophia’s accomplishment. As a BMX racer, Sophia is fast and furious, with the focus and determination of a true competitor.

"It would have surprised me if she hadn’t got it, she’s that good," said Kelly. "She has a natural talent that I haven’t seen even in boys. ... She is super gifted, and she works very hard."

And the best may be yet to come, they say.

Sophia hopped on her first BMX bike when she was 6-years-old, after watching her younger brother Joey race at Rad Canyon BMX, a Salt Lake County facility located in South Jordan.

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"I remember watching how everybody was going so fast and everybody was having so much fun, and I loved riding my bike around the neighborhood, so I thought I would try it," Sophia says.

Yep, it was as fun as it looked.

BMX racers compete on a serpentine dirt track that includes banks, hills and jumps. There are up to eight racers on a track at a time; from start to finish, a race takes just 35 to 45 seconds.

"It’s an all-out effort, a combination of strength, agility and skills," says Steve Spencer, sports marketing manager for GT Bicycles.

Sophia started out racing in the novice age group, which at younger ages includes girls and boys — mostly boys.

"They gave me quite a run for my money for quite a while, and then I began to catch up to them," she says.

Within a couple years, she had claimed eight wins and moved up to an all-girls expert class, which included Utah girls who were then the fastest in the country.

"When I started, there were probably more girls than there are now," Sophia says. "Now, everybody has gone to other sports, but we still have a good amount of girls."

There are currently about 50 Utah girls at all age levels competing in BMX.

Sophia tried other sports, too — track and gymnastics — before settling squarely on BMX racing.

"I just enjoyed BMX so much," she says. "It was so much fun to do something unique rather than something everybody hears about all the time."

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