LONDON - Alise Post said she could have been more aggressive in her seeding run Wednesday for the women's BMX races at the London Olympics. The St. Cloud native got a good look, though, at what can happen on the other side of that fine line.
Post finished eighth in a time of 39.89 seconds, 1.46 seconds behind leader Caroline Buchanan of Australia. U.S. teammate Brooke Crain crashed just before the finish. Crain was not seriously injured and will compete in the semifinals Friday in the same heat as Post, as both Americans try to win medals in their first Olympics.
Competition began at the BMX track Wednesday for 32 men and 16 women, as each ran the course solo to record a time that determined their place in the starting gate for the semifinals. Post is seeded fourth and Crain eighth in Heat 1. Each heat of eight riders will do three runs; the four highest-ranked riders will advance to the finals, also on Friday.
"I definitely think I could have been more aggressive out there,'' said Post, sixth among elite women in the International Cycling Union's rankings. "I definitely think there is a lot of room for improvement, which is good. I really wanted to be in the top eight, and I made that, so I'm happy with that.''
Post liked the course, on which riders start at the top of a hill and navigate high-banked turns and several jumps. It has a tunnel in the middle, a unique feature that suited her. "You get a whole new speed coming into that tunnel,'' she said. "It's like having another starting hill out there. I love to go fast, and it provides more speed.''
Eight to 10 of Post's family and friends came to see her Wednesday, and she said she could hear them cheering from the stands. She heard the entire crowd gasp when Crain went down.
As she navigated the hills near the end of the course, Crain landed awkwardly and tumbled over the front of her bike. She got the wind knocked out of her and bruised her thigh, but she said she would be fine for Friday's races. Crain was a late addition to the Olympic team as a replacement for Arielle Martin, who was seriously injured in a crash 10 days ago.
At their training center in Chula Vista, Calif., Post and Crain have been preparing on a track that replicates the Olympic course. Post said the gold medal likely will go to the rider who can best handle the pressure of being at the Olympics. British cyclist Shanaze Reade, a three-time world champion, carries the weight of high expectations from the home crowd, while Buchanan and world champ Magalie Pottier of France are among the favorites.
Post, who returned to competition last spring after recovering from a knee injury, is happy to carry a slightly lower profile into Friday's chase for the gold medal.
"My biggest competition is myself,'' she said. "It's a mind game out there.
"I've been sitting around waiting for this day to come. Now it's game time.''