Usually races are about who's fittest and fastest, but the Four Kings — the last in a trilogy of racess organized by Tony Horn — was not about that. The trails and formats for the four stages were created to be a true test of riding skill, to see who could get through some of the toughest trails in Whistler the most efficiently. Speed mattered but riding skills mattered more.
The final results, controversial for a few riders, tell Horn that the format succeeded.
"The final winners were Seb Kemp and Sylvie Allen, but I have to give props to Greg Grant and Katrina Strand who were basically co-winners. It was really close," said Horn.
Any debate about the results is strictly academic. There was no prize money or prizes, just a paper crown. Bragging rights are the only thing that the winners can claim, but even bragging is out of tune with the spirit of the event. It was a personal test that most of the riders who set out on Friday night passed, aside from a few who had to pull out with damaged bikes and injuries.
If anything, Horn said, the results show that the event succeeded in its goal of recognizing riding skill.
"This is the best way to describe it," he said. "Greg Grant is a really fast cross-country rider who rides everything fast and well; he rides singletrack and the park. Seb Kemp is the opposite, he's a downhiller who's really fit and can ride trails really fast. Greg would probably beat Seb in the Test of Metal, and Seb would probably beat Greg in a Phat Wednesday race. In the end I was happy to see that the top 10 was pretty evenly divided, with five really good cross-country riders and five really good downhillers."
The final results were posted online at www.worca.com early Wednesday morning after Horn worked to resolve a timing/mapping issue that threw Stage 3 — a timed climb up Yummy Nummy followed by a timed descent of Foreplay — into confusion. That's because Horn was testing a new technology for the event, using FLAIK GPS transceivers to time riders between checkpoints rather than traditional timing gear. That technology made Stage 4 possible, with nine separately timed stages.
The riders were not ranked based on gross time but on their finish position in each race. First place was worth 0.75 points, second worth two points, and so on. The lowest score wins.
The first stage was an after dark time trial in Lost Lake Park with 18km of trail. Stage two was a downhill on some challenging, rocky trails. Stage three was a timed climbed and timed descent on Yummy Nummy/Foreplay. Stage four was an epic 48km ride around Whistler with nine separately timed sections. Riders could use just one bike with one set of tires for all of the stages.