Monday Oct 03 2011
Wright comes back to conquer Champery
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Auburn mountain biker to become a pro rider
Christian Wright faced the downhill mountain bike course in Champrey, Switzerland for the second time last month. Last year, he left it by helicopter, fighting for his life. This year, he left in triumph as the fastest American junior rider to finish the course. That is just one milestone Wright, 18, of Auburn, has lived to tell about this year. Along with starting his first year at William Jessup University, in Rocklin, Wright just finished paperwork to make the transition to professional riding. He’s slated to compete in downhill, dual slalom, dirt jumping and freestyle. With a third place dual slalom finish, earning a time of 47.51 seconds, at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships, held Sept. 23-25, in Beech Mountain, N.C., the timing is just right. Wright’s father-turned-mechanic, Clark Wright, said seeing his son conquer Champery was a proud moment. “The goal was to teach him that if you have challenges in life, you have to go back and meet them,” Clark Wright said. The bond with his family is one thing that has kept Christian strong in the wake of recovering from a ruptured spleen and kidney, and recent knee injury. “His family is the most supportive of any family of any of the riders I have seen,” said Bicycle Emporium Manger Curtis Christiansen. “It’s kind of exciting to see because he is going to be in the adult pro category.” Christiansen is among those in the community who have ridden with Christian and watched him grow up. The Wrights moved to Auburn from Granite Bay to be closer to trails in the American River Canyon, where Christian enjoys practicing. With top finishes and a unique desire to compete in downhill racing and freestyle competitions, Christian has developed a fan-base all over the world. Although, no one is more eager to ride with him than his homegrown fans. “In our community, all the young kids look up to him and want to ride with him,” Christiansen said. “He’ll go out there and ride with anybody.” At over 6 feet tall, Christian is also the right size to fair well in downhill, according to Christiansen. “Christian is really big for his age. Since he was 14, he has been like 6 feet tall,” Christiansen said. “You have to be a really big person to go that fast on a downhill and not lose control.” Heath Sherratt, owner of The Hub Bike Shop, in Roseville, has also been close with the Wrights throughout Christian’s racing career. The Hub is the local spot where Christian gets his Commencal Mountain Bikes. He is also currently sponsored by several other companies, including EX Drinks, Enve Composites and Marzocchi Suspensions. As a business marketing major, Wright said he hopes to get involved in the business-end of mountain bike racing after he retires. He was awarded the General Motors Business Scholarship and a scholarship from the business department at William Jessup. Sherratt said it’s Christian’s tenacity, and careful parenting, that has enabled him to come so far in mountain biking. “The thing that really stands out about Christian is his will. His will is indomitable,” Sherratt said. “His dad and mom have really learned to temper that and give him discernment to go with it.” Along with his passion for mountain biking, Christian has a strong faith that inspires him. “He has real faith for Jesus. He has got a little fire in his belly. He has come a long way,” Sherratt said. “He has already raced against pros and done well. He’s not intimated by folks or star struck. He knows what he is worth.” While Christian’s size gives him an advantage in downhill racing, most freestyle riders are smaller. Wright said he won’t give up on dirt jumping or trying tricks to specialize in downhill exclusively. “I have a pretty broad mind,” Wright said. “There is really no limit to what you can do on a bike. There is always something new to learn. It’s all up to you.” Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.