Anatomy of a mountain biking champion Broken bone, appendicitis can't sway Auburn's Wright from bike glory By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Christian Wright soars off a jump in the American River Canyon last week. The 14-year- old Forest Lake Christian sophomore is one of the top downhill mountain bikers in the country, overcoming injuries to take second at the USA Cycling National Championships in Vermont last month. Photo by Michael Kirby/Auburn Journal Christian Wright was immersed in black, blue and gold this summer. The 14-year-old from Auburn continued his ascent through the downhill mountain biking rankings despite two trips to the emergency room. A broken scaphoid (a bone just below the thumb) and an appendicitis couldn't keep Wright from winning four major races and taking second at the USA Cycling National Championships last month in Vermont. "Usually after an injury I just end up going faster," said Wright, a a sophomore at Forest Lake Christian. "Crashing's a part of mountain biking. I know it's going to happen and I just try to prevent it." Wright moved to Auburn from Granite Bay last year, giving him easier access to Auburn's nearly endless supply of trails. Screaming down narrow trails littered with small boulders and soaring over gaps is what Wright does best. He's earned a full sponsorship from Commencal Bicycles, one of just a handful of junior riders in the world to have all his equipment provided by a sponsor. With a background in BMX and motocross, Wright was drawn to mountain biking because of the freedom it provides. "You're out in the woods instead of on a track, in a restricted area. "It feels more free, for sure, than BMX." Wright must wait at least two more years before he reaches his ultimate goal - the world circuit. At age 18, he'll be able to apply for a pro license. "I plan on riding for a long time," Wright said. "It's my favorite thing to do. You have to have a passion for it or you wouldn't be able to ride that much. You have to be committed to it." Throughout the summer, Wright's weekends were filled with competition. He traveled all over the West in search of the top competition he could find. He won the downhill and the dual slalom by hefty margins in the 14-and-under sport division at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey in April. He took first in the downhill at the Cal State Series in Weaverville in May. Wright broke his scaphoid while training in early June. He still had a sore thumb six weeks later when he took second at the US National Championships, held in West Dover, Vt, where more than 100 riders competed in his division. On the slate for 2008 are the National Off-Road Bicycling Association National Series, the Cal State Series, a national race in Whistler, B.C. and dozens of regional races. As for the hazards of his sport, Wright said he is learning about the fine line between radical and reckless. "My judgement has grown. I know what I can and can't do," Wright said. "If the trail looks too technical, I won't ride it - but that doesn't usually happen."
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