I remember walking the courses for the finals in 2007 and 2009. My recollections were that the arena was impossibly small, and back then I felt it would be extremely difficult.
I've come a long way as a rider since, so I figured it would look easier to me this time around. But it didn't.
In my conversation with Anthony D' Ambrosio, the course designer, we agreed that there was no specific place on the course that should cause a problem. Indeed the faults were spread out along the course. In my opinion the left turn rollback to the double, 5a and 5b, was challenging.
There weren't many options on course to make up time, so the clockings were very close between the top few placings. Since the format was Table C (faults converted into seconds), riders needed to make an effort to be fast. A very fast round with one jump down can still beat a clear round that is conservative, though that didn't happen at the top of the order.
The energy of the crowd was great tonight, and when the 19-year-old Flexible cruised to an easy clear round for second place, I know I wasn't the only one with goosebumps.
The jumps get bigger and wider for the next round, so the margin for error will become less. We'll see tonight who is ready for the test.