Often, when the leader stops to look back at a fallen opponent, especially a dominant one, it's a sign of disdain.
But when Tyler McCaul hit the brakes to shoulder-check Kyle Strait, it was nothing of the sort.
Strait, the defending champion and two-time winner of the CLIF Bar dual speed and style event at Crankworx, tumbled in the first jump of the second run in the final against McCaul at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Strait said after the race he just missed his grabbing his handlebars and couldn't make the landing. McCaul, a beat behind Strait at the time, hit the brakes to make sure his close friend was OK. Once he got the thumbs up, McCaul then cruised down the rest of the course for the win.
It was a year of progression in the event for McCaul, who decided to allot more of his focus in its direction after opting to move away from slopestyle. He had his struggles in New Zealand, progressed to the round of eight in France and won the whole shebang in Whistler.
"I'm happy to finish the season off strong," said the Aptos, Calif. resident. "I just learned a little bit every round. I realized how I screwed up every time, so I tried to be more consistent and tried my harder tricks in practice instead of saving them for my runs."
The couple of late mistakes cost Strait not only the standalone win, but the dual speed and style overall title as well. Instead, both tied for third with 180 points, giving the absent Bernard Kerr of Great Britain the overall title with 225 points.
"(It's) in the back of your head, yeah," Strait, og said. "But I've been under pressure pretty much my whole career.
"I'm super-used to it. Some people could say I fell to the pressure, succumbed to pressure, but it's just a mistake and mistakes happen."
For the win, McCaul took home $3,000 while Strait and third-place finisher Ryan Howard nabbed $2,000 and $1,500, respectively.