Three continents, six races...it all comes down to this.
On every tour within the XTERRA World Tour there are two big races left. For the XTERRA Pan Am Tour, it’s XTERRA Dominican Republic on Sunday and the Pan Am Championship race in Utah on September 7. In Europe, it’s Luxembourg Sunday then XTERRA Netherlands September 14. And on the Asia-Pacific Tour, XTERRA Japan is Sept. 15 followed by XTERRA Kunming in China, September 22.
At stake over these next three weeks are race and tour titles for amateurs and elites, qualifying spots into the XTERRA World Championship, $90,000 in tour bonus payouts, and the chance to be a star on an internationally broadcast XTERRA Adventures TV show.
Here we’ll take a quick look at the elite contenders in each tour…
XTERRA PAN AM TOUR
The ninth of 10 races in the Americas takes competitors to the Caribbean, and the white sand beaches and tropical rainforests of Samana, a province on the northeastern Atlantic coast of the Dominican Republic.
In the men’s elite tour title chase Sam Osborne from New Zealand holds a commanding lead having won four of the five races he entered this year (and remember, elites count their best six scores including what they get or don’t get at the finale in Utah). Sam wouldn’t be able to improve on the 465 points he has now, so he’ll sits this race out and wait eagerly for the finale on Sept. 7.
Josiah Middaugh, who is second on the Tour standings, is off representing the XTERRA Tribe at the Eco-Challenge in the Fiji Islands which runs from Sept. 5-25, meaning he’ll miss both DR and Utah before returning for Maui.
That leaves Karsten Madsen (pictured above) as the only man left standing with a shot at challenging Osborne for the tour title, and he’s in Samana looking to go big.
“Goal is to win,” said Madsen. “I’ve been close all year and the way I look at it, I have three races left -DR, Utah, and Maui, and I believe I have the ability to win them all. I just need to stay on my process, dot some i’s and cross the t’s.”
Branden Rakita, who sits in the third spot in the tour standings, will not be handing Madsen the DR trophy just yet, but he does plan on enjoying the trip.
“I can't recommend XTERRA DR enough as the perfect race-cation. In fact, after getting married a few weeks ago, Bri and I are looking forward to it as our ‘Race-moon,’” joked Rakita. “The venue around Coson Bay is beautiful, the crystal blue waters and tropical atmosphere. The bike and run will be toasty, but we’ll be hanging out relaxing on the beach instantly after the finish. Since this will be my 6th race in the Pan Am series the focus will be to gain a few extra points over my worst finish this year and keep myself as close to Karsten as possible going into Utah. As always, I will be searching for the win but there are much bigger things at stake the following weekend in Utah.”
In the women’s tour title chase Samantha Kingsford leads the way, and just like her partner Sam Osborne, with five races in the books and the lead she can not improve her position so will wait patiently for next weekend.
Suzie Snyder, the two-time Pan Am Tour Champ, heads to DR with a chance to score 75-points with a win which would put her just eight points behind Kingsford, 432pts to 424pts. And that would mean it all comes down to Utah with both ladies holding fate in their hands.
Of course, a win in DR won’t come easy for Snyder as reigning XTERRA Pan Am Tour Champ Fabiola Corona is back in Samana to defend her title.
“My goal is to win, I know Suzie will be there so it will be a hard battle,” said Corona. “I love the location and race venue; it is a paradise on earth. We are very grateful with the staff and people we met last year, so it will be wonderful to come back and spend an awesome weekend. I have very good memories from this race, winning and carrying my flag all the way through the beach until the finish line.”
Laura Mira from Brazil, who is ranked third on the tour, and Kelli Montgomery, who is 10th, are also anxious to collect some big points before the finale.
“I love racing in the heat and humidity and having a non-wetsuit swim suits my strengths as well, so I hope to get myself on the podium,” said Montgomery, who finished fourth in DR last year. “It’s then a quick turnaround for Utah six days later, but I have raced well two weeks in a row before.”
Find current XTERRA Pan Am Tour elite and amateur standings here.
XTERRA EUROPEAN TOUR
There were 14 races in Europe this year, and elites count their best eight scores, including what they got, or didn’t, at the European Championship race held in Prachatice earlier this month.
The number of possibilities on how it will end up are endless, however, if all goes “normal” it’s looking like Arthur Serrieres, spurred by huge wins at the last two gold events in the Czech Republic and Germany, should be able to maintain his top spot in the rankings.
XTERRA Europe director Nico Lebrun, a four-time Euro Tour Champ in his racing days, shares his thoughts in the XTERRA Luxembourg race preview you can read here.
The women’s tour title is all locked up for the legend, Helena Karaskova, who will become the first elite – male or female - to win five European Tour titles when it’s all said and done.
Find current XTERRA European Tour elite and amateur standings here.
XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR
This is a fun one, as the elite tour titles are completely up-for-grabs for both the men and the women.
Pros count their best three scores, inclusive of what they got (or didn’t) at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race that was held in March in Kenting, TW. With two races left, that leaves the tour wide open for everyone who raced in Taiwan, and there were many.
For the men, Sam Osborne sits on top the tour standings with 165 points by virtue of his second-place finish in Taiwan and win at XTERRA New Zealand. But, has he got a ticket to Japan and/or China? It’s not likely, but it’s not impossible either.
Next up is Brice Daubord, who was third at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship and won XTERRA Tahiti and has his sights set on winning the Tour. There’s also Ben Allen, Maxim Chane, and Lewis Ryan – all with legitimate chances to win it all.
The women’s chase is even closer with Penny Slater, Jacqui Allen, and Carina Wasle all within 10 points of each other at the top of the standings, and Fabiola Corona is also within striking distance and could win two races in a row and steal the crown.
We’ll have more on XTERRA Japan and the inaugural XTERRA China in the weeks to come.
Find current XTERRA Asia-Pacific elite and amateur standings here.