How do you follow up winning one of the world's most prestigous amateur contests? Well, you become a TV star, of course.
Since winning the Gatorade Free Flow Tour back in August, Brandon Loupos has been back in Australia celebrating his victory, riding his bike and dealing with some added attention. "I have been doing a bunch of TV stuff and demos," Brandon explained. "I was even asked to go on ‘X-Factor’ here in Australia. It's been fun."
Brandon (2nd from right) helps sit in for the judges during a recent trip to the X-Factor Australia studio
Influenced by his cousin, Brandon first started riding BMX in Australia at age 10. "Justin got me into riding bikes because he raced motocross, and rode BMX when he wasn’t on the track," he recounted.
Two years later, Brandon would start entering a few local contests for fun. From there, he placed 2nd in vert at the BMX Games in 2007 and continued his progression.
By his own account, it was only about 2 years ago that Brandon started taking his riding seriously. And it's a good thing he did. After winning a mini-ramp contest at the Monster Skatepark Birthday Bash in 2010, Brandon reeled off several wins in regional contests in Australia. It all set the stage for what was to come in 2011.
Brandon competes at Mission Valley
Earlier this summer, Brandon traveled with a group of Aussies to America. Training at Woodward throughout their stay, they had their eyes set on the Gatorade Free Flow Tour. In late July, he and his crew first competed at the Skatepark of Tampa. Brandon found himself in 6th place at the end of the first round, which means he just missed the cut for the final 5-man round. Undeterred, he travelled cross-country with the rest of the group to hit the Mission Valley contest in California the following weekend, which also happened to be the final chance to qualify for BMX park finals.
You already know what happened next. Brandon found his way into finals with a strong performance and got to stick around the States a bit longer, much to his delight.
Competing against a strong field of ams at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Finals in Portland, Brandon re-took the lead for good from fellow Australian Logan Martin on his 2nd and final run. Without a doubt, one of the signature tricks in his run was the triple tailwhip.
"Seeing Victor [Salazar] land his triple whip air definitely got me pumped," Brandon noted. "I knew I was going for it ever since our practice session. I was just double tailwhipping it to get the feel for it, and each time I jumped that big box, I got more confident on trying it. When it came around to throw it, I was more than ready to go for it in my run. I was stoked to land it, man!"
It's been more than just TV show cameos for Brandon since Portland, of course. He's also been training hard for his next challenge - competing against the pros at the upcoming Dew Tour stop in Las Vegas. "I am feeling much more confident on my bike, and I just keep pushing myself to get better and go bigger," he said.
As if a wild card invite wasn't exciting enough, Brandon will have the opportunity to ride and compete on a course that Dave Mirra, an idol of his since he was a kid, is helping design. "Vegas is going to be awesome!" he told us. "I'm going to do my best out there and just enjoy the Dew Tour experience. I can't wait, it's going to be so much fun!"
This is only just the beginning for Brandon. He plans to return to the U.S. in 2012 to compete full-time in next summer's Dew Tour. Until then, he'll be back in Australia - which is perfect, considering that summer is about to start there right as it ends here - doing plenty of demos and contests, and pushing himself further.
"It has always been my dream to be a pro," Brandon added, "and I'm so happy on what I have achieved so far to get here!"
Check out our interview with Brandon below!
Gatorade Free Flow Tour: What have you been up to since competing in Portland?
Brandon Loupos: I came back to Australia to celebrate the GFFT win in Portland with my friends and family. I was back on my bike pretty soon after arriving, and I have been training for the Vegas Dew Tour.
GFFT: Has anything changed for you since winning?
BL: Its been pretty crazy... I have been doing a bunch of TV stuff and demos. I was even asked to go on ‘X-Factor’ here in Australia. It's been fun. I am feeling much more confident on my bike, and I just keep pushing myself to get better and go bigger.
GFFT: Back in Portland, you mentioned that one of your goals was to pull a triplewhip on the box jump... At what point in the contest did you decide to go for it?
BL: I knew I was going for it ever since our practice session. I was just double tailwhipping it to get the feel for it, and each time I jumped that big box, I got more confident on trying it. When it came around to throw it, I was more than ready to go for it in my run. I was stoked to land it man!
GFFT: Did seeing Victor [Salazar] land one right before your run give you any extra confidence or motivation?
BL: Seeing Victor land his triple whip air definitely got me pumped. He is a great rider and it was cool to see him do so well. It was really motivating hanging out and riding alongside the best BMX riders in the world! It made me focus and want to put out my best run.
GFFT: Do you still keep in touch with any of the other finalists from Portland?
BL: It was definitely a great opportunity to ride with all the Gatorade Free Flow Tour finalists in Portland, It was a great vibe while the contest was going on and everyone did awesome, and it was great to make new friends. We all try to stay in contact with each other as often as possible.
GFFT: Making it this far is obviously a huge accomplishment, so congratulations on that. With your Dew Tour debut now on the horizon, what are your goals or expectations for next month's contest?
BL: Thank you every much! Gatorade and Alli have been amazing and I am so happy for this opportunity. Vegas is going to be awesome! I’m going to do my best out there and just enjoy the Dew Tour experience. I can’t wait, it's going to be so much fun!
GFFT: What went into your decision to compete in the contest as a pro?
BL: It was an easy decision... It has always been my dream to be a pro, and Im so happy on what I have achieved so far to get here!
GFFT: Dave Mirra is helping design the course in Las Vegas. The final design hasn't been released yet, but what elements would you love to see included?
BL: Dave Mirra has been my idol since I was a little kid, and I am sure he will create a unique course that’s fun to ride! Can’t wait to see it...
GFFT: What are your plans for 2012?
BL: After Vegas I will be heading back home for the Australian summer! There are a heap of comps and demos and it will be great preparation for the North American season. I plan to come back to the U.S. and compete in the Dew Tour in 2012. Wish me luck!
GFFT: Any sponsors you'd like to give a shout-out to?
BL: I would like to thank Aussie Freestyers Clothing, Monster Skatepark, X-rated Helmets, Urban Kreation, Above All BMX and I would also like to thank Woodward for their support while I am in the US.
Brandon's Dew Tour debut will be during the Las Vegas stop, which takes place October 13-16. Check back here to find out how he did. Until then, stay tuned for more features on all of this year's Gatorade Free Flow Tour champions!