It was the first world championship medal for an American male in a cross-country event in 13 years. The last was Walker Ferguson's bronze in the U23 race at the 2001 world championships in Vail.
From a tough 38th position in the first lap, Grotts steadily moved his way up to medal contention thanks to his good, consistent lap times. With about half a lap to go, he was only 22 seconds out of third place and on the final climb was able to take over third from Dutch rider Milan Vader.
"My start was way less than ideal," Grotts explained at the finish line. "But I had a super steady race and was picking people off on the climbs mainly, and just keeping it in control on the descents. And then on the last lap I was riding for fifth and got a gap. Then I saw fourth and passed him. Then once you see third, you can't give up and I ended up making it happen. This is awesome for me, for the United States."
At the finish, Grotts was just over a minute behind new world champion Michiel van der Heijden (NED). The silver medal went to Jordan Sarrou (FRA). Also competing for Team USA Cycling in today's cross-country event were Sepp Kuss (Durango, Colo./RMCF-Devo) in 36th-place and Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale Factory Racing) in 58th.
Three women also donned the red, white and blue on Friday. Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif.), Kaylee Blevins (Durango, Colo./Bear Development Team), and Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif.) represented Team USA Cycling in the U23 women's cross-country event which occurred right before the men's.
Courtney finished just 7.24 off the winning pace for a solid 13th-place as the top American. She was followed by Powless in 19th and Blevins in 37th. The women's event was won by Jolanda Neff (SUI) while Margot Moschetti (FRA) and Linda Indergand (SUI) grabbed the silver and bronze medals.
Eleven more Americans will be in action on Saturday as the elite men's and women's cross-country races take center stage. Catch Saturday's races live via Universal Sports or Red Bull TV, or follow on twitter.