The world of mountain biking boils down to meat, potatoes, and gravy. But appetizers are always welcome. So far in this year's World Champs, we're had a few appetizers, and a bit of gravy; the meat and potatoes get served up during Saturday's XC Elite XC and Sunday's Elite DH races. But to tide you over, there's been a healthy serving of Junior and U23 XC action, and some bar banging 4X action.
Junior XC races: Not much to mention, really. The next crop is coming up; hopefully not too many will get seduced to the dark side (road racing). The new Junior World XC Champs are Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Michiel Van Der Heijden (although with Prevot, the seduction has already occurred—she's the reigning World Junior Road Cycling champ, too). U23 saw Alexandra Engon and Mathias Flueckiger claim victory. In Women's Observed Trails—evidently that still exists—Gemma Abant Condal once again crushed the competition (evidently the Spaniard has been killing it for a number of years).
The 4X competition could be considered the gravy of this World Champs, and it was served up steaming hot.
Women's 4X saw Caroline Buchanan take a second title in as many years. She pretty much steamrolled the competition. Anneke Beerten was looking good until the rock garden, when Luana Maria De Souza Oliveira of Brazil crushed the inside (and gnarly!!!) line on a downhill bike in round one and effectively closed out Beerten and eventual third place winner, Romana Labounkova of the Czech Republic.
In the men, all eyes were on Jared Graves, and as he cruised through the rounds, he was clearly the strongest rider. But not the smartest. For some reason, as he approached the final corner, Graves took the inside line over the rocks. The slow line. Thomas Slavik was not going to miss snatching that low hanging fruit; the Czech rider swarmed the outside line and took the win.