For the latest Canby sports news, follow @CougarCountryOR on Twitter, and catch The Canby Current’s weekly sports podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and at cougarcountry.podbean.com.
In June 2020, local preteen Elliot Metz was in a predicament familiar to millions of other kids around the country and the world: facing a summer in which their usual sports and other pastimes would not be available due to the pandemic.
A three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and baseball, Elliot instead turned his attention to something new. For fun, he headed to the Chehalem Valley BMX track in Newberg — one of just two USA BMX-sanctioned tracks that were open in the state at the time.
His riding there happened to catch the eye of Harold Ridge, head coach of the Ridge Brothers BMX Racing Team with more than 20 years of experience.
“Ever since I first saw him that day, I just liked the way he rode,” Ridge recalled. “I remember going up to him at the track and saying, ‘Just keep it up, man.’ I could tell right away, he had the potential to be something special.”
He was right. Now 10, the Lee Elementary School fifth-grader has stuck with Ridge’s team — and the sport of BMX racing — and has become one of its fastest-rising young stars, with a growing collection of gold medals from various big-time Oregon and West Coast races under his belt.
Some of Elliot’s most impressive performances have come on the sport’s largest stages, including a first-place and second-place finish in his two events (cruiser and class, respectively) in the USA BMX Oregon and Washington State Finals at Emerald Valley BMX in Eugene in September.
“He’s really on a tear right now,” Ridge said. “He’s phenomenal, and he’s a really good kid. I like kids like him that don’t speak much and just go out and take care of business. He’s also a very humble kid. He gets it: It’s 45 seconds of hard work, win or lose.”
Earlier in the summer, Elliot had acquitted himself well on the national stage of BMX racing, making into the finals in three out of four events and finishing fourth, seventh and eighth against the best riders in the country.
“It was really fun to watch,” his father, Joe Metz, told the Current. “In less than two years, he’s gone from novice to intermediate to expert, and now one of the top racers in the country. It’s crazy to me.
“It’s exciting to see his passion unfold before our eyes. He’s driven and passionate about racing and as a parent, it’s exciting to see it come together for him. We’re very proud of him.”
“It’s really exciting to see his progression,” his mother, Noel Metz, added. “He gives everything he has to riding. He trains all winter by going to the lumberyard in Portland or just riding his bike outside whenever he gets a chance.
“He watches past nationals on his iPad to study people’s racing habits. It’s a lot of hard work, and he lives for his racing. It’s just a really cool thing to watch your child have such a love for something it turns into our passion as well.”
Ridge, who got into BMX riding with his brother when they were kids growing up in San Francisco, California, and started the team to give their own kids an outlet, said Elliot’s attitude is one of the things that impresses him the most.
His intense focus is what earned him his nickname: The Hammer.
“He’s a very quiet kid,” Ridge said. “He doesn’t talk much, but once he gets on the track, he’s mean. That’s where he got the name Hammer: just putting it down. Just being ruthless on the track. But he’s always very sportsmanlike as well.”
The Metzes are not the only Canby family that has come up through Ridge Brothers Racing. Brothers Rizdin and Chance Miller, who also excelled in more traditional sports at Canby High School including football, were also on the team in their day.
Elliot’s next big race will be this weekend at the Fall Nationals Metro BMX in Bakersfield, California.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!