Vans Bmx Pro Cup Series 21017 Digbmx Sergio Layos Tuck No Hander 1 1
4 Aug 2017

Inside The Vans Pro Cup - Part 1

A contest series focused on style, creativity and unique lines? Check.

vans flying v clean

Words and photos by Rob Dolecki (Intro Photo by Wes McGrath)

This year’s Vans BMX Pro Cup  series has gained quite a reputation. Instead of using traditional judgement criteria for parks, which is focused primarily on trick progression, these concrete bowl comps favor style, creativity, and unique lines, something that seems to make a more relaxed environment with positive vibes emanating from everyone entered. Ahead of this weekend's final round in Huntington Beach we caught up with two of the main organizers, Vans TM Jerry Badders and the legend himself, DMC, as well as one of the judges and someone who needs no introduction, Mr. Joe Rich, and got a little insight into how and why this series came together. Check back for Part 2 with some of the riders’ take on the Pro Cup.     

Catch all the latest videos from this weekend's Vans BMX Pro Cup final round in the related section below and and follow the DIG Insta for regular updates. You can watch the finals LIVE here on DIG too on Sunday August 6th.
2017 Pro Cup Interview Part 1 5

Dennis McCoy

How did the Pro Cup come about?

You have to go back to the Vans Triple Crown in 2001. I first rode for Vans in ’85, and came back to Vans in ’01. Paridy (Dennis’ wife) and I started running that event with them. It was such a big part of BMX for a while- three events a year for that four year span. Some guys would pay the entry fee just ride all weekend, and have some quesadillas from the grill cooked up by Steve Van Doren, listen to good music and have a blast, and by the time their runs came up they just goofed around or pulled out of the event. Half the riders were serious about the contest. I think that brings a great vibe in, compared to something where it’s all people just wanting to win the event. If everybody has that mentality, it’s just not the coolest to be around.  When the Dew Tour came about, Vans sponsored some of those stops, and the one kind of had to make the other go away. There was a long span where Vans still did events, but not on a big level with a series. When Vans sponsored the U.S. Open again in 2013, I was out in Southern California and Jerry mentioned he’d like to do a BMX event there. We sat down in the office with Steve Van Doren, and being such a supporter of BMX, he said he didn’t know what the budget was going to be or what the schedule was but we’re going to run an event there. That’s what happened. The riders that were invited were such a part of the energy of the event. The Van Doren Invitational became the blueprint for doing a bigger series. This year was the year to make it happen. Badders had to pull off so many things from a budget standpoint. We made it happen under the circumstances. Everybody has been, “ I believe in this shit, make me a part of it.” It’s a community involvement, and the riders are as big a part of it as anyone.

How did you determine the locations?

Jerry and I visited the Guadalajara site in January; Vans Mexico had a desire to do it. In Europe, Ruben’s park is just an incredible park. Spain is such an amazing country. When an event is so good, you want to make it an annual thing. 

You ran the Dew Tours for a number of years; how do you approach doing the Pro Cups differently?

Way differently. We ran it for eight years; it was a points series. In the early years there was the big prizes; over ten million dollars total was given out.  There were tons of high moments, and people made a lot of money. But there are going to be more memories made from this thing than what people had during the Dew Tour. The biggest change is I’m working with Vans. If the riders have an idea, we have a discussion, and the decision is made. If we have to go up the ladder, we go to Steve Van Doren. It’s so smooth compared to the Dew Tour. Big decisions about the format for BMX events and how the prize money breakdown is structured shouldn't be left to interns around a water cooler. A lot of what was our ultimate departure from the Dew Tour was, I was told we were too vocal about what the riders want. We don’t have a rulebook that goes out to the riders for what they can and can’t do. You show up and have fun, and rip it up.

So you and Jerry are steering the ship.

We’re in a world now where concrete parks are all over the place. The coolest thing about it is the very first BMX contests were in cement parks, in Delmar and Upland; it’s come full-circle. Those comps were incredible. The only reason they went away was because they closed down those parks and filled them in. And we sort of made do with wood ramps; it was, “How can we mimic what used to be there with plywood.”

Has all the positive reactions helped motivate you for future events?

We don’t have anything set in stone. We know it’s being well-received. There are plans to do the series again next year. We look at this thing as an evolving series that changes with the riders’ desires and what makes sense. We want to bring the party to different spots.

What’s been your personal highlight at the Pro Cup series so far?

Every one of the Van Doren Invitational stops was amazing.  Like so many other people talked about the event in Malaga, I was standing there watching, and for a moment, I thought this might be the best comp I have ever been to. I had to stop and think, I have been going to major events for 33 years. You can’t really compare that directly to an AFA velodrome comp that had flatland and ramps, or a X Games with like five disciplines.   For a one-discipline event, with the energy and vibe, I was left there thinking it was the best event I’ve been to. There have been so many highlights. In Australia, watching all the riders not pissing and moaning, but out there with squeegees and leaf blowers getting the course dry.

What’s been your personal favorite thing you’ve seen go down so far?

In Malaga, people had so many lines and were going so huge. In Huntington Beach, when you get that many riders and a height pole, people were blasting to the moon.

2017 Pro Cup Interview Part 1 2

Joe Rich

Have you judged all the Pro Cups/ Vans Invitational bowl events?

Yeah, I think the first Invitational was four years ago.

What’s your take on the Pro Cup series so far?

It’s really cool, because I think that the first year, there were so many other contests that were run a certain way. It was so awesome to see the course that was built, people were hyped, and the vibe was awesome. As each year went on it came into its own. The ones in Huntington Beach, always you see the interaction between riders, how much fun they are having, cheering each other. I don’t see that at X Games practice. Maybe there’s more on the line, or different people. It almost seems like a jam, and everyone understands that they are competing against themselves and not against each other. It caters to a side of riding that so many of us absolutely love. I felt like it became more about watching dudes just do what they do rather than riding in a way to get the best score.  The dudes that are pre-qualified- everyone has such distinct styles, and you just can’t wait to watch them ride. It’s not like am I going to see ten more of this or fifteen more of that, and how am I going to decipher between that. It’s that you really get to see what they like about riding come out in their own way; that’s the best part. I never set out to be a judge, I never thought that I was qualified, or my opinion matters more than anyone else. But if someone asks me, I have no problem telling them what it is.

You’ve judged a variety of contests, like X Games, Dew Tour, etc. Do you feel your process of judging changes at all for these?

Not really. I don’t take it lightly; all these dudes are busting their ass. I love watching this style of riding. I know what I like and I know what I don’t. That’s why I’m here, to basically say that. I’m not going to start trying to rewrite the way I see things, just for the sake of what someone else thinks of my opinion. I have things that I pick out and consider, and it may be different than the dude sitting next to me. At the end of the day, everyone has to face the fact that there is no wrong or right. Malaga- the top four dudes could have been shuffled up any way. It’s been pretty rad; at all the Vans Pro Cups, we’re pretty damn close in what we think. People have their opinion, but they’re not trying to force it. With everyone that’s been involved, that mutual respect and understanding has been awesome. If I had to put what I like riding in a contest form, it’s there; I feel really lucky.

What do you think of the parks they’ve been held at this year?

The parks are always great. The dudes are so good they make them look way batter than they really are. Going into something like Malaga, it’s a park built by Ruben, and it’s an all-BMX event- you just can’t replicate that vibe. People were just fucking hyped the whole weekend. People were just going ape-shit. The course almost becomes irrelevant; it’s more of a gathering of people who like doing what they do. It kind of reminds me of going to the old B.S. comps. That to me is the difference when it’s just us BMX’ers here.

Is there anyone you haven’t seen at the Pro Cups that you’d like to see ride?

Oh man, so many. I don’t even know where to start. It’s not so much the contest run aspect of it, I would just love to see them ride in an environment where everyone is shredding and having a good time.

2017 Pro Cup Interview Part 1 4

Mr. Rich catching some pre-comp morning laps on the best snake run in Mexico.

"That’s part of the reason why I chose these judges; they all ride and they know if a transfer is harder than a double-tailwhip."

-Jerry Badders

2017 Pro Cup Interview Part 1 3

Jerry Badders

How did Vans Pro Cup come about?

I was trying to get Vans to do global BMX contests. The idea came about a few years ago. The pro skatepark series went off last year, and I was able to lock in these Pro Cups. There’s not a lot of BMX events around anymore. Basically I'm using Vans' budget to make these things happen. I wanted to create something more about style, creativity, choosing your line… everything that Vans is about. Seems like more and more concrete parks are getting built. Since skateboarding is in the Olympics, there will be a lot more popping up. In Australia I saw a lot of awesome talent, same with Spain. They don’t get seen or noticed; that’s another reason why I wanted to put these on in each region. It’s an open qualifier, so any kid can compete. We take the top ten and they can compete against their idols the next day.

With direction of how the Pro Cups seem to be judged more on style and and how people are riding the park as opposed to trick progression, why do you think that’s important?

I don’t want to bag on anyone. Nitro Games is rad, but I don’t know, the kids that win it aren’t even BMX’ers. That's not good for the sport. Progression is good, but a box jump isn’t for everyone; neither are concrete parks. Out here you see a lot of different riding, styles and a lot of new talent. At Nitro Games it’s all about hucking yourself and landing on resi. I wanted to bring back the Vans Triple Crown days about fun and putting a smile on kids faces, and remember these things.

The way people ride concrete bowls is such a refined technique developed over years. In my opinion, it can be on par with progression of tricks themselves.

Yeah, that’s part of the reason why I chose these judges; they all ride and they know if a transfer is harder than a double-tailwhip. It’s always two different judges at each at event. Judging is hard these days; it’s tough to not pick a team manager, or friend. The main thing is you just got to ride your best and be happy with yourself.

What are the plans for next year’s destinations?

We’re going to try to do one in South America, Australia wants to do one again, Europe, Mexico definitely wants to do one again, Canada, U.S. There will be at least four or five stops and a final.

Related Video

In The Cut - Vans BMX Pro Cup 2017 - Guadalajara, Mexico

"I didn't mean any of it... well, i meant like 80% of it" - More Info

Related Video

In The Cut - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga

Deck Chat - More Info


CON-TENT: A Good Old-fashioned Road Trip

Expecting the Unexpected with the 4Down Crew


All About S&M's New Full-Length Video "Hot Dogs Who Can't Read"

Ever watch "Hot Dogs Who Can't Read" on Weeeed?

Related Content

Vans Pro Cup 2017 Huntington Beach Qualifiers
Play Button

Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Highlights - Huntington Beach 2017

Dennis Enarson, Maxime Charveron, Kris Fox, Larry Edgar, Tom Dugan and many more

5 Aug 2017
Course Preview Huntington Cup
Play Button

Vans BMX Pro Cup Course Preview - Huntington Beach

With Ryan Nyquist and Gary Young

2 Aug 2017
Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Photo Gallery
Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Photo Gallery
Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Photo Gallery
Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Photo Gallery

Vans Pro Cup - Qualifying Photo Gallery

From 60 riders down to just 12

1 Mar 2017
Dmc Haro Master Aw Dig Bmx 2

Dennis McCoy - "I'm still riding for both brands that supported me as a teenager, the year I'll be turning 50."

Haro's first Non-Californian eighties recruit talks about the re-ssue of bike he turned pro on and a whole lot more...

29 Apr 2016
2017 Vans Breakdown With Dakota Roche Tom Dugan Huntington Beach
Play Button

2017 VANS Breakdown with Dakota Roche & Tom Dugan Huntington Beach

"The boys over there in the shallow end and the men over here in the deep end"

1 Aug 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga 2017

In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Malaga 2017

40 Moments From One Of The Year's Best Contests

12 May 2017
Jones Swampfest Interview Rd 3

Taking The Reins: Trey Jones On The Florideah Swamp Fest

The story behind that epic no-budget DIY jam...

12 May 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Guadalajara 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Guadalajara 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Guadalajara 2017
In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Guadalajara 2017

In Photos - Vans BMX Pro Cup - Guadalajara 2017

Bringing the fuego to Mexcio...

8 Jun 2017

Latest Content

Lqwf6 XJ Aw F Yhqdefault
Play Button


Closing out Day 2 with a bang

26 May 2024
K5g Ny Ln Pbzwhqdefault
Play Button
L Wk K5h8 L60ghqdefault
Play Button


Devon and Casey battle it out

25 May 2024
D YO Zj Af Q5uohqdefault
Play Button
W Fu JFE R Mk Ahqdefault
Play Button
J Wfad UDFF Ehqdefault
Play Button


42 and still killin' it

24 May 2024
0 Wnt5 B Npiq4hqdefault
Play Button
Sa Kg Onb H Edwhqdefault
Play Button


An Argentinian Trails Video

23 May 2024
6q T Ca0 P3t K8hqdefault
Play Button

Colony Road To ACT Jam

Nothing beats a BMX roadtrip

23 May 2024
8w Wh LD Lqd 8hqdefault
Play Button



22 May 2024
T0v Eo X Ffs N Qhqdefault
Play Button


12 of the world's best

22 May 2024
St L2yk8e Sv Ehqdefault
Play Button


The whip that takes quite a beating

21 May 2024

DIG Partner stores

More Features

Jamie Pipe Tribe

A Brave New World - The history of KHE Bikes, Part 2

Taiwan, a pornstar, and innovation in a can

18 Apr 2024
Garrett Reynolds feeble oppo feeble 540


This is Project X - This is BMX

9 Apr 2024


"I got my first WTP frame at the back end of 2001. Half a lifetime ago."

21 Dec 2023
Simple session 2023 boyd hilder 9

Simple Session 2023 Photo Journal

23 years and counting...

27 Sep 2023
BOH RAIL JAM 2023 47

Battle of Hastings - Photo Journal 2023

From the beach to the basement of Source Park

12 Sep 2023
Trey Jones Pocket Air1 Aguilar 2023
20230804 DIG GLASGOW 0028


Jammin' and premierin'

11 Aug 2023
20230421 OHIO 0218

Postcards from Ohio - Photo Journal

3 cities, hundreds of spots

9 Jul 2023
45 dig 93 by dolecki LYNN 250 POSH

Trails Closed - The End of Posh Woods

Why the legacy of Posh will absolutely endure

14 Jun 2023
2nd angle Zack Scott DIGBMX 4

The "Full Coverage" Interview

Never underestimate the camera guy!

8 Jun 2023
Robin in Split Croatia Photo Kieran Cooper 7

Robin Bourhis “From Engineering to Riding”

The story behind his WTP 2023 Video Part

26 May 2023
Darty burnslow digbmx 12

Darty in the Ditch 2 - Catching up with Brett Silva

Austin comes together to ride and remember...

23 May 2023