Hometown: Rotorua, New Zealand
2017: Won the XTERRA Saipan Championship on March 18 to take the early lead in the Asia-Pacific Tour standings. Then claimed first at the XTERRA New Zealand Championship, the first local to win this race in 15 years.
2016: Finished 2nd at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in Australia, was 5th at XTERRA Portugal, 2nd at XTERRA Belgium, 7th at Switzerland, 2nd at Italy, 3rd at Sweden, 2nd at the XTERRA European Championship in Germany and 2nd at XTERRA Denmark. Finished 2nd on the XTERRA European Tour. Placed 9th in the XTERRA World Championship.
2015: Finished 2nd at XTERRA New Zealand, won XTERRA Sweden and was 2nd at XTERRA Denmark.
History at XTERRA Worlds: Finished in 9th place last year. DNF in 2015.
Thoughts from XTERRA European Tour Director Nicolas Lebrun: Sam is a pure Kiwi! He's a strong athlete but is always loose and has fun. He had some great results last year, was second on the Euro tour and at the European Championship in Germany he finished just seconds behind Ruzafa. With the experience he gained in 2016, I bet we will see him crossing the line first a few times this season and celebrate it all night! He has the perfect XTERRA spirit, to fight hard with your main competitors during the race and then enjoy a few beers with them as real friends afterwards!”
QnA (circa March 2017)
XE: Are you a full time pro Athlete? if not what is your occupation?
I pretend to be, while I’m away for the majority of the racing season I’m still studying for mathematics degree & NZ summer I work as a MTB guide & Barista
XE: Family Status?
Just me and my shadow
XE: What is your daily or week training plan?
Hours, weeks, months they all kinda flow into each other
XE: What do you eat for breakfast before a big race?
Weetbix, cause Kiwi Kids are Weet-bix kids
XE: What type of diet do you follow?
I don’t really just try to keep what I eat reasonably balanced
XE: How many years have you been involved with XTERRA?
2015 I started to throw my hat in the ring a bit
XE: What is your athletic background-How did you started?
I started with mountain biking when I was younger but moved on to ITU racing when I was at school and it’s only in the last 18-months or so I’ve picked up the mountain bike again.
XE: Which of the three disciplines is your favorite?
I like all really, go through phases of what is the flavor of the month
XE: How many XTERRA’s did you race in 2016, (results)
New Zealand 2nd
Asia Pacific Champs (Australia) 2nd
XE: Last year you had a fantastic season in Europe, finishing second on the Tour, in Denmark in some point you were leading the race and the tour, then Mauricio passed you and gave the tour to Ruben, do you still think about it ?
Ha yea it was agonizingly close, it really wasn’t long to go in the race when Mauricio came past me so naturally I was a bit gutted at the finish. I wouldn’t say I think about it much really, it never pays to look back at what could have or would have been. I do take a fair amount of comfort in the fact that I went out there and put it all on the line, and was just beaten by a better man on the day (who now calls himself World Champ). If I could have got more out of myself that day I would have given it trust me.
XE: In Germany you had also a great race, you almost caught Ruben, is this one of your goals, to try to beat this guy at least once ?
Germany was up there with some of my best races last year. Absolutely it’s a big goal, Ruben has had a cross on his back for a long time now, but to be fair that goes with anybody that has been at the top for that long. He’s obviously very classy and you’ve got to have respect for a guy like that, he’s a tough competitor to race and hopefully we’ll get to line up a few good tussles this year.
XE: What are your XTERRA plans for 2017?
I’m going to have a crack at the Asia Pacific Tour this year and then make the journey back over to Europe. I haven’t mapped out exactly how Europe will look yet but I will definitely be coming back.
XE: What is your favorite XTERRA?
Xterra NZ, and I don’t think its all biased. I really do believe that NZ is one of the best courses around. The mountain biking in Rotorua is really something else, I am yet to find somewhere on my travels that rivals what we have in New Zealand (happily take suggestions and a tour guide to show me this year though). I have held Jan Pyott to ransom over showing me a bit of Switzerland’s trails though this year.
In terms of races in Europe, hard to narrow it down to one, they all have their own unique elements. I love the bike course in Sweden, the town Scanno in Italy and the brutality of the course there and then the atmosphere they have in Germany is unreal.