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Second-Grader Parker Carlson Qualifies for World BMX Championships
Parker stands with his bike, his qualifying medal around his neck

Parker after his qualifying race at the USA BMX Gator Nationals in Oldsmar, Florida

Ravenscroft second-grader Parker Carlson has qualified to compete in the 2023 World BMX Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in August.

Competing in a field of approximately 50 competitors at the USA BMX Gator Nationals in Oldsmar, Florida, on Feb. 24, Parker earned one of eight spots for his age group. A second Worlds qualifier, taking place in Bakersfield, California, this Friday, March 10, will determine the other eight competitors from America.

BMX is a type of off-road bicycle race that involves navigating obstacles that, according to the USA BMX website, include “big jumps” and “steep backsides, deep turns and downhill sections.” Contestants typically compete in a field of eight riders. The sport includes juniors like Parker as well as elite adult competitors. It has been an Olympic sport since 2008.

According to Parker’s mom, Marianna Pfefferle Carlson ’04, Parker began riding bikes just after his second birthday and started racing at age 5. “When the rest of the world shut down [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], BMX never stopped,” she said. “We thought it was a sport he would enjoy.” 

What does Parker like best about BMX? In a word: everything.

“I like racing — just riding my bike,” he said. “I like the gate, but it depends what track. I like snapping out of the gate.”

He said feels “good” about qualifying for Worlds and is looking forward to competing in Glasgow this summer.

“I’m most excited to go to another country and get a passport,” he said. “I’m excited to trade jerseys with kids from other countries!” He then added after a moment’s thought, “But what if they’re all sweaty and gross?!”

Parker’s mom said it’s the perfect sport for him.

“He fell in love with it at the first gate drop, and we’ve never looked back!” she said. “His nickname is Chaos, due to his ability to navigate his way through chaos on the track. He also creates plenty of his own!”

Congratulations and best of luck to Parker!

Two photos of Parker riding a BMX bike on a track with other riders

Parker, #13, during BMX competitions. Photo at left courtesy of Tara Murphy