Tyler McCaul came to a halt in the middle of his winning run in the Crankworx dual speed and style on Aug. 8.
When the leader stops to look back at a fallen opponent, especially a dominant one, it can be a sign of disdain.
But when 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 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 all right. Once he got the thumbs up, McCaul then cruised down the rest of the course for the win.
"He was a little bit ahead of me and I saw him go down," he said. "I knew I was going to take the win, but I wanted to make sure my friend was OK."
"Tyler and I are really good friends in general," Strait said. "I'd do the same for him."
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 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. I think that helped a lot," said the Aptos, Calif. resident.
McCaul said he knew Strait would be left standing when just two remained, but wasn't sure what kind of shot he had until the results from the first run came in and he led by 0.3 seconds.
"Maybe I'm biased now, but this is my favourite course of the whole Crankworx. It was both speed and style. The jumps were big and they were super trickable and you can make up a lot of time on them," he said. "It was a perfect mix and I'm looking forward to next year."
Trick-wise, McCaul was focusing on the flip suicide no-hander, and was proud of one he landed. However, the 360 down-whip is what made the difference.
"The three down-whip is what carried me through. I got it every run, and it's a hard one to do with slippery feet, so I'm glad it worked out," he said.
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, of Alpine, Calif. 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.
Bromley makes history
Trish Bromley has had a great view of past dual speed and style events.
She got the best view this year.
The Whistler resident became the first woman to qualify for the event after serving as a volunteer in past years. She said she surprised people by coming to the event with her bike instead of a clipboard and qualifying for the main event at the end of the day.
"It's been on the radar for awhile just because I saw it from the back side of it just working the event. It always looked like so much fun," she said. "It was just so cool being a part of it with the other guys and to be on the course."
Bromley said she's received plenty of positive feedback after breaking through, and has had four girls tell her they'd like to give it a shot in 2016 after seeing what she could accomplish.
"It turns out it's a pretty big milestone for a lot of people — the feedback and the messages that I've been getting since of girls just saying 'It's awesome you're doing that. I want to do that, too. Keep it up,'" she said. "It wasn't just a big thing for me to overcome, but a big thing for the sport to see."