Local rider breaking BMX barriers

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Nikita Ducarroz, a Sonoma native and BMX rider, has fought her way through discrimination in a male dominated sport, as well as her personal challenges like anxiety, to get her to where she is today, ranked No. 3 worldwide and shooting scenes for a BMX movie.

Ducarroz, born in France but raised in Sonoma, has been riding since she was almost 14. By 17, she was competing around California, started her own clothing company and even rode a demo in the X Games. Because of her anxiety though, she wasn’t able to get on a plane to compete out of the state or go to high school, so she did it online.

Today, 20-year-old Ducarroz lives in San Diego, is majoring in sports management through online college and is riding more than ever.

“There is a lot more opportunities down here,” Ducarroz said. “I went to a few contests around the U.S. and Canada this year. It was the World Cup and I came in third overall for the women. So yeah, just riding, and just trying to progress women’s riding basically.”

BMX is considered a male dominated sport at the moment, with not many women in the industry. Ducarroz said this year is the first year it’s becoming more standard for there to be women’s categories at competitions, including having their own class at the World Cup. The Van’s U.S. Open and the X Games had women do demos this year, but they still do not have their own competition. Ducarroz thinks it will happen next year.

Ducarroz loved her time in Denver and Canada for the World Cup. After a disappointing run in Denver, she didn’t learn she was going to continue on until five days before – so she quickly booked a trip to Canada.

“Competitions are awesome, at least for me. I do well under pressure, so I feel like I am able to attempt things that I might be scared of doing in normal sessions,” Ducarroz said. “And you get to see your friends which is awesome because even though we are competing against each other, most of the riders are friends, and we all kind of ride together outside of competitions.”

Since high school, Ducarroz has had time to overcome her anxiety, to be able to move away from home and travel out of the state to more competitions. While her anxiety isn’t entirely gone, it’s a lot better. She attributes this to time, her sports psychologist and her family.

“He (her psychologist) made me really face my fears, and break down my beliefs. He also taught me not to just push my fears aside, but rather to learn to live with them, but be stronger than them,” Ducarroz said. “I can’t forget my parents and family, who just stood by me, and continue to do so. I definitely wouldn’t be here today without all of these instrumental people.”

Ducarroz’s family still lives in Glen Ellen, and because of her ties to BMX and Sonoma County, Ducarroz was recently able to shoot some scenes for a new BMX movie, called “Ride.”

The movie is about the troubled early life of BMX rider John Buultjens, who is taken in by a couple (played by hip hop artist Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Sasha Alexander), where he confronts his past through their help and BMX riding. Other actors in the cast include Bryan Craig and Shane Graham, as well as producer Ali Afshar, a Petaluma native.

The movie filmed in Petaluma and Napa for about a month, and Ducarroz was part of the production for the four days they were shooting at the skate park.

“Basically they just had a lot of pro riders riding around in the skate park for various scenes they were doing,” Ducarroz said. “I don’t know if they’re actually going to be in the final thing, but we all did individual runs they filmed for the final scene in the Napa skate park. They filmed us riding around and practicing.”

Ducarroz actually knows John Buultjens, because he is a manager for Haro Bikes. Because of her connection with him and other riders in the area, she was invited to come to participate. Ducarroz said Ludacris even hopped on a bike and hung out with the local riders.

“He’s a really cool guy. Really, really down to earth,” Ducarroz said about Ludacris. “It was cool to see him out there riding bikes with us. His character was not actually a rider, but between scenes we were just messing around in the skate park.”

Now, Ducarroz is on downtime, following her World Cup travels. She is still riding and working out every day, will compete in some smaller competitions and is trying to get more sponsors, and work with her current ones.

“Every year gets better and better, it doesn’t even seem real. Because it’s fairly new for women, there isn’t really a set path and so I’m kind of just trying to figure it out, and do it my own way. I’m getting better at hopefully making a career out of it,” Ducarroz said. “As far as the freestyle BMX side, there aren’t any women that it is their career. They have other jobs, and BMX is just a fun thing to do. I’m hoping to make it my full-time job.”

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