Dhers and Cranmer return
The Park field at XG Foz do Iguaçu features ten of the most talented riders in the sport; seven are representing the USA, with one each from Venezuela, Canada and Australia. Despite having amazing depth of talent on every roster, the last seven XG Park events -- dating all the way back to 2006 -- have been won by only two riders: Daniel Dhers and Scotty Cranmer.
Scotty Cranmer has ended Dhers' win streaks twice. Although he's yet to claim consecutive XG events, he's favored to win in Brazil. He is driven to win X Games; he sees it as the most important contest on his calendar. While always a threat at other comps, he's special at XG, as his five medals in his last six attempts proves. Meanwhile, Venezuelan Daniel Dhers has been dealing with complications from a fractured left kneecap sustained in a crash at XGLA '12; it took two months to diagnose and has hindered him since. After rehabbing his left leg for months, he may not be riding at 100 percent in Brazil.
There are five other previous XG Park medalists in the field, leaving only three without medals: Kyle Baldock, Drew Bezanson and Daniel Sandoval.
Australian Kyle Baldock lands some of the hardest and most complex tricks in the sport on a regular basis, but he'll have to link them together well on the course to earn a spot on the podium. In the past, he's excelled more on traditional park courses that feature box jumps and spines, as opposed to XG's more flowing design.
Canadian Drew Bezanson has plenty of Park wins on his resume and has the skills to win XG as well. His best finish in two XG appearances is a fifth from XGLA '12, but he easily could better that in Foz.
Daniel Sandoval finished 8th at XGLA '12 despite suffering through three flat tires in his Heat. He has a great combination of huge tricks and smaller, more technical moves, and he's more comfortable on a concrete course than much of the rest of the field.
Of course, the rest of the BMX Park invites are a constant threat to the rest of the field.
Dennis Enarson missed XGLA '12 with a broken left femur, but his two prior appearances at XGLA in 2010 and '11 netted silver medals in both Park and Street. The incredible all-around rider is competing in Park and Dirt in Brazil, and another double-silver performance is certainly not out of the question, though competing in both on the same day won't be easy. In 2011, he won the Dew Tour's overall Dirt title and finished second overall in Park.
Six-time XG Park medalist (and a surprise silver at XGLA '12) Ryan Nyquist is almost always a podium threat, but he will be more focused on the return of Dirt later in the day after the Park Final. He owns Park gold from '02 and '03, and the 34-year-old proved in 2012 that he can't be counted out.
Pat Casey earned bronze at XGLA '12, his second XG appearance. Like Sandoval, he can throw the big moves while also utilizing challenging sections of the course for more technical moves. The 19-year-old is on the rise.
Gary Young (XG Park silver medalist in '03, bronze in '09 and '10) will write the book on full and creative use of the course, linking solid tricks together seamlessly in high-speed lines.
Morgan Wade (silver medalist in '06) will study the course for the most ridiculous transfer lines, and he'll go for them whether or not they have a high probability of being landed. The strategy could pay off big, but it hasn't treated him very well in his eight other non-medal-producing XG Park appearances.