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Marquette sisters reach new heights at 2024 BMX World Championships

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – At the Marquette BMX track, sisters Silvia and Stella Palomaki, along with their brother Fischer, have quickly embraced and excelled in the cycle sport.

“BMX in Marquette, we’ve been growing slowly over the last few years,” said David Niemi, Track Operator for Marquette BMX. “It’s a really nice sport because you can race as you want. We race every Tuesday, Thursday night, all summer. You can come and race if you want to race every time and you can race out of town or you can just race locally.”

The Palomaki siblings quickly took to the sport after giving it a try in Marquette just a few years ago.

“I started racing when I was seven years old, and my dad raced when he was my age,” said Silvia Palomaki. “And he thought it would be fun to go try racing Marquette BMX as a family. We absolutely were in love with it.”

“Sylvia started racing a couple of years ago and her and her sister Stella and her brother Fischer have really taken to BMX,” said Niemi. “They’re really, really fast riders. They run a lot of Nationals and all the state races all around the area. They went down to Florida earlier this year and the two girls qualified for the Worlds.”

After qualifying to be a part of Team USA earlier this year, both girls raced in the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Championships in South Carolina earlier this month.

“That’s amazing,” Niemi said. “We had Marla Brady, in 1991, won the Girls National Championship for ABA BMX back then and this is, I think, just as big. It’s amazing to have a world rider, we’ve never had anyone ever make the worlds.”

“I love seeing my friends at races and I love racing against the best girls in the world that are in my age group,” Silvia Palomaki said. “And it’s really fun to compare them to me.”

“It was exciting because it was my first world championship,” said Stella Palomaki. “And I didn’t know how it was going to be.”

Stella reached the Age 9 Girls Quarterfinals, while Silvia finished third overall in the Age 10 Girls challenge race.

“I was very surprised about how well I did because this was my first world championships,” said Stella Palomaki. “And I was racing against girls that were the best in the world.”

“I was really, really excited when I got bronze because I got to pick my gate, and I got Gate One and it started raining right after so the corners were wet,” said Silvia Palomaki. “It’s really easy to fall when it’s wet when you’re on the inside and One is in the inside. I was lucky that I didn’t fall. The girl that got second place, we bumped elbows in the first corner and I had to brake and then I had to get right back up to speed. In the third corner, my back tire slid a little bit and I almost fell and I tried my best to get to the finish line and I was very, very excited.”

“I was just hoping she got out of the gate and got a good start,” Niemi said. “And she came out of the gate, I think, third or fourth. It was amazing how good of a finish she got. Third in the world out of 10-year-old girls, that’s amazing.”

Back at home, the pair had the support of their fellow Marquette riders as well, as they were welcomed home Friday night with a surprise party for their performances. But after taking some time to celebrate, the siblings have no plans on slowing down.

“At Marquette BMX we’re going to race a lot of races and I’m also going to do the Gold Cup Series,” said Stella Palomaki. “And we’re going to travel around the country to do Nationals. It’s exciting because we push each other to be better and (my siblings) are also my best friends.”

By finishing within the top eight for her age group, Silvia automatically qualified to take part in the 2025 World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We’re going to do the Gold Cup Series in the Midwest. We’re going to travel around the country for the National Series, and hopefully, I’m going to do Worlds next year in Europe, and I think it’s in Denmark,” Silvia Palomaki said.

“They’re an amazing family. They’re out here all the time and they help out a lot and they’re just really good people,” Niemi said. “It really makes me feel good to see them do so well, and it’s almost like watching one of my own kids. It’s so fun watching our riders do well out of town.”

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