Christopher Grice
National Championships

Overcoming Challenges and Chasing Redemption: Christopher Grice's Journey as an Elite Downhill Mountain Biker

By: Jim Rusnak  June 16, 2023

Christopher Grice's debut season as an elite downhill mountain bike racer was plagued by a shoulder injury, but with renewed determination, improved skills, and a home-field advantage at the upcoming USA Cycling Gravity National Championships, he aims to showcase his true potential and secure a podium finish.

Christopher Grice's inaugural season as an elite-class downhill mountain bike racer was a tough one.

Coming into the season well-prepared and ready to race against all the guys he's looked up to his whole career, he suffered a freak shoulder dislocation in the first UCI World Cup race in Lourdes, France.

"It was a really weird type of injury," Grice said. "I didn't actually crash. I landed a little funny, had a mechanical, and was in an awkward position and ripped the shoulder out. I kept going 10 seconds from the finish line and realized something was wrong."

Grice was in a sling for a month due to the injury and battled a weakened shoulder for the rest of the season.

"Having the injury was kind of a big blow," Grice said. "It was pretty difficult seeing a lot of that offseason training being put to waste after that. I feel like I had some good rides and showed some speed (last year), but overall, I struggled a bit with consistency."

Since then, Grice, 20, of Brevard, N.C., says he's gone back to work this past offseason, building his overall fitness base, gaining strength and muscle mass, and working on his pre-race nerves.

He trained with his team, Generation Specialized, for two weeks in France in December, then for two more weeks in France, Italy and Spain in January.

Grice has also got a couple of races under his belt this year, including a win in March at a Downhill Southeast event in Sequatchie, Tenn., and a ninth-place finish at a national round in Windrock, Tenn. He also finished 13th in an international test event in Lourdes in April.

Now he's looking forward to the start of the UCI World Cup, June 9-11 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and of course, the USA Cycling Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships, July 12-16 in Rock Creek, N.C.

"Last year didn't go exactly how planned, but it kind of lit the fire more for this year," Grice said. "I'm coming in so ready. I'm just stoked to get racing."

Goals for the Season

Grice says he doesn't like to set results-based goals. Instead, he focuses more on the process, which this year includes riding like he knows how to ride, relying on his skills and working through his pre-race jitters. If he can do that, consistent top-30 finishes on the World Cup circuit are not out of the question.

"A big goal for me is just to show what I'm capable of because I didn't show that last year," Grice said. "I think that would be a good step for me and definitely a doable goal. I definitely want to make reachable steps, and I'm always striving for more than that. I just want to see how it goes."

This Season's Biggest Challenges

One of the biggest challenges standing between Grice and his goals this year are his nerves. He says he often gets pre-race jitters before qualifying rounds and finals and sometimes compares himself to other racers.

"As I've been racing at the professional level, it's definitely high-stress," Grice said. "That's something I've been working on and definitely making some progress."

Beyond the mental aspect, he also sees the World Cup races in Fort William, Scotland, and Val di Sole, Italy, as the season's two most significant physical challenges.

"Fort William and Val di Sole are two really physical, long endurance tracks," Grice said. "I think those will be really challenging throughout the week (of those races) – just being fatigued and managing that."

The Plan

So what will it take to conquer those challenges and achieve those goals? Grice offered two things:

  • Keep improving his bike. "This year, more than ever, I've been making lots of changes," Grice said. "For myself, I've been learning more and more about how the bike works and what I like and don't like. I think working on that is only helping me."
  • Keep working on the physical aspects of racing. "Like I was saying: especially on these longer tracks, my hands will be getting tired, and there's just overall fatigue," Grice said. "Pushing on (the physical) side of things will just help me feel fresher at the bottom of the racetrack."


With the USA Cycling Gravity National Championships just an hour away from his hometown, Grice said he's "super stoked" about having the event in the Southeast region of the U.S. and admits he's going to have a bit of a homefield advantage – one he hopes to convert to a top-3 finish.

"Maybe once in a lifetime, I get to sleep in my own bed for National Champs," Grice said. "I feel like the track for Nationals suits me pretty well, so I'd definitely like to put in a good run. I think if I can do my best run, I can definitely be up there fighting for a podium.

"It's a super good vibe going into nationals this year. The past few years have been in Colorado, and I felt like it had more of a West Coast advantage. The dirt's different. I definitely feel like it's more on my side this year."

Registration and information for the 2023 Gravity Mountain Bike Nationals can be found here.

Events like these would not be possible without volunteers! Volunteers will get passes for Rock Creek, the Riveter, and a free whiskey tasting. Sign up here.