Reports from a number of riders from various teams was tha the course was simply too new. One young man said "some of the course looked like they took a lawnmower to a grass field and that was all." Rather than being technical it was just a pain. It lets you appreciae how nice the courses are at Boggs, Granite Bay, CCCX.
Interestingly it made little difference in the finish.
You're too polite.
My son abandoned his hard tail racer in favor of my fat-old-guy FS bike so that he would have the ability to sit AND pedal. The bike came back with a bunch of new creaks and loose parts. My wife was working feed zone and saw one kid riding through that screamed "my balls hurt!"
They really needed to have that course riden at least for a week or two, preferably when there was some moisture in the soil to get some lines cut and perhaps get the worst of the native soil topography flattened out. At the very least they could have gotten a couple guys on motocross bikes to make some tracks. A couple dozen laps with the increased weight and longer knobs would have made the course much more ridable.
You're right, it didn't affect the finish much, but it took the fun factor down more than a couple notches.
It was a thrash, however it doesn't hold a candle to the Champs at Nevada City in 2003. The mud was so bad that after the first wave the riders carried their bikes off the start for the first 120 yards. Yet this is the stuff of memories.