Last weekend in Salt Lake City, some of the world's youngest bike riders faced off in the 2017 Strider Cup World Championship.
Toddler balance-bike racing is "the country's cutest sport," Strider Bikes said, and nearly 400 racers, from 18 months to 5 years old, participated in the championship. They came from all over the United States, plus 14 countries, including Japan, Australia, Thailand, Tahiti, and Sweden, taking on a 750-foot course filled with obstacles, water features, and ramps. This year, each division was won by a Japanese racer — Kaisei Nishimura won the 2-and-under class; Raito Kaneko finished first in the 3-year-old class; Taiga Kuwahara was on top for the 4-year-old class, and Waku Kunitate won the 5-year-old class.
There were also Special Needs Races, open to racers of all ages and abilities, with several Special Olympics teams involved. Mom Melissa Clark, whose 9-year-old twins Sara and Emma participated, said riding balance bikes helps them with their "balance, coordination, and confidence. They loved the race. It was so exciting and fun for them to do something like this." Catherine Garcia